The Vancouver Canucks have an opportunity to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup with a victory over the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals Monday. Meanwhile, in D.C., the Washington Capitals and their fans have no choice but to sit and wait until October before getting another chance to win their first championship. With that in mind, it was quite serendipitous that head coach Bruce Boudreau preached patience at a coaches clinic in Windsor, Ontario, Friday.
Boudreau spoke on defensive system overhaul, which he implemented this season to transform the Caps from a run-and-gun offensive machine to a sound, defensive unit. Yet, that ultimately did not work to Washington's advantage as the Tampa Bay Lightning swept them out of the Eastern Conference Semifinals just over a month ago. Jim Ralph, emcee at Roger Neilson's Coaches Clinic at the University of Windsor, summed up the Caps' season with one playful jab:
"Tomorrow, he'll be speaking on a different subject: when to go back to the original plan. I'm guessing it would be after Game 2."
Ralph was obviously joking, but it's funny because it's true.
Boudreau discussed how the reasons for losing are easier to find than normally thought:
"When teams lose, you're looking for major reasons why you lost, but that's not always the case. Sometimes, the reasons are way more simple than they want to believe. Sometimes, it's a bad break. Sometimes, the other team just plays better."
Boudreau is right. The Lightning simply played better than the Caps for four straight games and came just one win shy of a Stanley Cup Finals berth because of it. Another year ended in heartbreak for the Caps, but when will said heartbreak become too much to repair? Boudreau does not believe that that moment will come anytime soon:
"Nobody in our core's over 26. They're all competitors. They all want to win. We all want to win the Cup. They'll be ready to go come training camp. They all believe eventually that they're going to win."
The "core" that Boudreau is referring to includes the "Young Guns": Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin and Mike Green. But calling them "young" at this point would be a stretch. Ovechkin and Backstrom had seasons to forget with career-low numbers, Green battled injuries for the second half of the season and Semin, once again, disappeared when the team needed him most.
"Eventually"? Care to elaborate, Bruce?
"Maybe we're just not ready yet, and our year will be next year. It takes time to win."
An old adage says that "patience is a virtue." But that patience is starting to wear thin in Washington.