George McPhee 'Expects' Bruce Boudreau To Return As Capitals' Head Coach

General manager George McPhee told reporters at Kettler Iceplex Thursday that he "expects" coach Bruce Boudreau to return next season despite a fourth straight early playoff exit. That and more from a day of exit interviews.

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Nicklas Backstrom Did Not Play Injured In Playoffs, Says Bruce Boudreau, George McPhee

BALLSTON, VA - Despite all of the injuries that the Washington Capitals played through during the playoffs, Nicklas Backstrom was not one the players hampered by physical ailments, according to head coach Bruce Boudreau and general maanger George McPhee.

Backstrom struggled throughout the postseason, only earning two assists and in nine games. He suffered a fractured thumb February 21 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and missed the first five games of his career in early March while recovering. Yet, he was healthy come playoff time.

"Nicky was not playing hurt, I don't believe," McPhee said. "He may have the garden variety stuff, but nothing major. He did fracture his thumb and played through that, which was pretty darn impressive. I think he sat out one or two games, but I'm amazed at how some of these guys play through some of these things. It's hard to brush your teeth or open a car door or do anything, but they're playing the game."

Boudreau agreed, saying that it was just a matter of bad luck that bit Backstrom.

"He's one of those guys that doesn't tell you if he's hurting," Boudreau said. "Other than scoring goals, he did everything else right. His confidence left him a little bit and he was squeezing his stick a little tight, but no one wanted to win or play better than Nicky."

Backstrom had 47 assists and 65 points this season, both of which were career lows. His last goal of the season came March 22 against the Philadelphia Flyers and he only scored three goals during December and January. In a season marked with disappointment for the team as a whole, Backstrom felt it on a more personal level.

"I wasn't as good as I should be," Backstrom said. "I take full responsibility for that."


Mike Knuble, Jason Arnott, Alex Ovechkin Among Capitals Playing Through Injury

BALLSTON, VA - During the playoffs, teams are mum in regards to specific player injuries. Yet, with the Washington Capitals' season over after Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mike Knuble, Jason Arnott and Alex Ovechkin, among others, revealed that they all suffered and played through injuries all season.

Perhaps the most interesting reveal was when head coach Bruce Boudreau admitted that Knuble broke his thumb in Game 3 of the Caps' first-round series with the New York Rangers and had pins inserted into his hand. Knuble missed Games 4 and 5 against the Rangers and Game 1 against the Lightning with what was believed to be an injured hand.

"I broke it probably about five seconds before I scored in New York," Knuble said, referring to his goal in Game 3. "I got hit by Mike Green there and it shattered. I had four pins put in that night. They're still in there, they tuck them under the skin."

Knuble also added that he had a "couple injections" before each game.

Arnott revealed that he had minor knee surgery after an injury he sustained while with the Caps bothered him to the point that he had no other option. The Caps acquired Arnott from the New Jersey Devils February 28. Arnott missed several games at the end of the regular season.

"it was bothering me for a little while," Arnott said. "I had to get it taken care of. It never heals when you get older. For the most part, it was okay.  At one point, I couldn't keep going. I had to get it fixed right away."

Ovechkin, whose cortisone shot earlier this season became a scapegoat for his lack of offensive production, said that he dealt with several injuries throughout the season, but would not specify what the injuries were. He did, however, clarity that his most serious injury bothered him for two months.

"I get hurt," Ovechkin said. "Everybody get hurt. It was something that was what I have almost two months. I play with it and I miss a couple games just for recovery. I think, again, the trainers do unbelievable job. They put me back in the game so I’m standing here. I’m healthy, I’m happy."

General manager George McPhee said that John Carlson played through a hip pointer suffered in Game 1 of the Lightning series, but Carlson said that it did not affect his performance.

"It's playoff hockey, You just have to play through those things. It didn't restrict me too much. It's part of the game."

McPhee also provided an update on Tom Poti, who appeared in only 21 games this season while dealing with a groin injury.

"We haven't had one doctor suggest that he needs surgery," McPhee said. "We sent him to a lot of experts. They thought it might improve just through rehab and it didn't. I think his career is on the line and that's too bad. He could get to 80 or 90 percent, but couldn't get beyond a certain threshold. It's hard on him and it was hard on the club because we kept hoping he might return."


George McPhee 'Expects' Bruce Boudreau To Return As Capitals' Head Coach

BALLSTON, VA - After the Washington Capitals made yet another disappointing exit from the playoffs, speculation regarding head coach Bruce Boudreau's job security ran rampant. As the Caps packed up and left for the summer, general manager George McPhee put those rumors to rest when he said that he believes Boudreau will return next season.

"I expect him to be back, yeah," McPhee said. "He's a good coach. Somebody said he's not a playoff coach. There's no difference between a playoff coach and a regular season coach. You're either a good coach or you're not and he's a good coach."

Since Boudreau became head coach in November 2008, the Caps have not advanced past the second round, losing in the first round twice. Boudreau has a 189-79-39 record with the Caps in the regular season, but only 17-20 in the playoffs. Before McPhee spoke to reporters, Boudreau answered questions about his job himself.

"I don't know," Boudreau said. "All we do as coaches, we ooach. We don't make any of those decisions. We work as hard as we can and we see where it leads. You know what, it's not up for me to think. I think about winning all the time and I think about what's best for the Washington Capitals organization. How can I answer that? I can't and I leave it up to somebody else."

Boudreau is seemingly safe for next season, but that did not matter to his players, who supported him wholeheartedly.

"Bruce is the rock behind this team," Mike Green said. "Anybody that knows him or played under him understands his philosophy and I don't think it hurts anybody more than him right now. He's the most passionate guy I've met in the game and I believe as far as decisions, if that's the decision they've made, that's great for our hockey club."

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