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After the best regular season in Capitals' history, it would be a gross understatement to say that Washington's opening-round meltdown against Montreal was a disappointment.

This was Mike Tyson losing to Buster Douglas. The Supersonics getting knocked off by Dikembe Mutombo's Nuggets. Iceland choking against Team USA in "D2: The Mighty Ducks." A massive plate of nachos from Frazier's in Hampden getting devoured by me in one sitting. For the Capitals, who were expected to steamroll through the East in these playoffs, it was an epic upset, a colossal failure.

Saying that the Capitals simply ran into a hot goalie would be taking the easy way out. No doubt Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 131 of 134 shots in Games 5-7, put forth a clutch effort that even über-confident Canadiens and Avalanche great Patrick Roy might admit was pretty good. But there's no excuse for the league's highest-scoring team allowing one man to keep them from advancing.

Where was the teamwork? Where was the traffic in front? Where were the dirty goals? When your squad is built to win barnburners, scoring three goals in three loses is inexcusable. Maybe it's time for the Capitals to reevaluate their approach.

Here are few quick thoughts:

-Mike Green is one of the NHL's most overrated players:
Green is a candidate for the Norris Trophy, awarded to the league's best defenseman, but it would be a total crime for him to win the award considering he doesn't actually play defense. (Maybe the NHL should create an award like the Selke for the best offensive defenseman for Green and Brian Campbell to compete for every season.) Green isn't a physical presence, gets pushed around in the defensive end and gets greedy in the offensive end. His coach and teammates have defended him in the press all year, saying he deserves more credit for his work in his own zone. Fans point to his point totals and plus-minus rating. But Green's playoff track record speaks for itself. He hurts the Capitals more than he helps them when it counts the most.

-Alexander Semin is Charmin soft: Semin is a fine individual player, and he's sure to command a big payday whether it's from the Capitals or another team, but when the going literally gets tough in the playoffs, he's a non-factor. He's like Betty White out there. Zero goals in seven playoff games won't cut it. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom can't do it all by themselves.

-The Capitals need better than so-so goaltending — especially with that defense: Semyon Varlamov put up decent numbers (2.41 GAA, .908 save percentage) after Jose Theodore dropped the ball, but soft goals suck the life out of a team. They're like missed field goals and bases-loaded double plays. Dominic Moore's game-winning goal last night was as soft as they come. That's a save a winning goalie has to make. That being said, Bruce Boudreau needs to stop yanking his goalies around. Pick your horse at the start of the season and ride him. Enough with the head games.

-Is it too early to worry about Ovechkin's struggles in the clutch?: He's an amazing talent, and I'd be stunned if he doesn't bring the Stanley Cup to D.C. eventually, but Ovie is 1-3 all-time in Game 7s. This one was not his fault. He was just one of the 20 guys who took the ice for the Capitals on Wednesday night. But to truly go down as a great one, he has to lead the Capitals to a Cup. Once again, I'm not saying he can't do it. Until he does, though, his guts in the clutch will continue to be questioned.

It will be interesting to see if the Capitals make any drastic changes in the offseason. The Capitals are one of the NHL's most exciting teams, and with Ovechkin leading the way, they're a lock to make the playoffs the next 10 seasons or so. But the Capitals may need to tinker a little bit to get tough enough to go on a serious Stanley Cup run in 2010-11.

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