Alex Ovechkin on Capitals' Playoff Loss to Panthers: 'Kinda F--ked up Situation'

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVMay 14, 2022

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 13: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals reacts after losing to the Florida Panthers during overtime in Game Six of the First Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on May 13, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin expressed frustration about his team's performance in its first-round playoff series against the Florida Panthers, which ended with the Caps' elimination after a Game 6 loss Friday night.

Ovechkin said the core group, which includes Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and John Carlson, deserves blame for failing to advance.

"I think you see how we played against the best team in the regular season. We have it, but we just blow it away," he told reporters. "It is on us. It is on me, on Backy, on Osh, on Carly. It is on everybody. Kinda f--ked up situation."

Washington was the underdog in the series after Florida won the Presidents' Trophy as the top-performing team during the regular season with 122 points (58-18-6 record).

Yet, the Capitals gave themselves every opportunity to pull off the upset and just couldn't come up with enough key plays in clutch moments.

They won Games 1 and 3 to take an early advantage. Here's how the series played out for Ovechkin and Co. from that point forward:

  • Game 4: allowed tying goal with 2:04 left in regulation, lost in overtime
  • Game 5: led 3-0, lost 5-3
  • Game 6: led twice, including early in the third period, lost in overtime

Backstrom agreed with Ovechkin's assessment of their first-round exit after Carter Verhaeghe sent the Panthers to Round 2 with an OT winner Friday.

"We basically gave the series to them," the veteran center said.

The Caps' disappointment is probably amplified because it's tough to know how much longer their championship window will remain open.

Ovechkin (age 36), Backstrom (34), Oshie (35), Carlson (32) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (29)โ€”the team's top five scorers in the seriesโ€”aren't getting any younger, and many of the club's depth players are also veterans. Martin Fehervary is the only member of the defense corps under 30.

In February, Scott Wheeler of The Athletic ranked Washington's farm system 26th out of the league's 32 teams, so it's unlikely a massive influx of young talent will be ready soon to provide a boost, either.

If the Capitals knocked off the Panthers, the door would have swung wide open for a deep run to hunt their second Stanley Cup title since 2018.

Instead, they're heading home with that future uncertainty lingering in the air.