When bad things hap­pen to good hockey teams

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - THOM LOVERRO

Not even the Grand Guru of Suc­cess could help the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals. Here’s what Tony Rob­bins — “the life coach ded­i­cated to help­ing peo­ple achieve their dreams” — wrote on Linkedin sev­eral weeks ago af­ter he had met with the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals for three hours and, he thought, blessed them with his for­mula for suc­cess.

“Had the honor to work with the NHL’s Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals for nearly 3 hours on Mon­day!,” Rob­bins wrote. “The team came out blaz­ing on Tues­day night and de­stroyed the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-1. Even the game’s com­men­ta­tor noted, “Caps are mag­nif­i­cent tonight, truly a clinic.” Con­grat­u­la­tions Caps — look­ing for­ward to watch­ing your post sea­son suc­cess!”

I would as­sume that the Grand Guru of Suc­cess was tak­ing credit for the Caps’ per­for­mance in that reg­u­lar sea­son game.

Well, Tony, I doubt you will be post­ing any of the re­sults of Game 2 or Game 3 of the Caps’ first-round Stan­ley Cup play­off se­ries against those same Toronto Maple Leafs. You know, the best-of-seven se­ries where the Cap­i­tals are sud­denly in a 2-1 hole, with a crit­i­cal Game 4 com­ing up Wed­nes­day night in Toronto.

Don’t look for glow­ing tes­ti­mo­ni­als from Caps fans on Rob­bins’ web­site, like the one from the busi­ness owner who writes: “He was so good at catch­ing me in the lies I told my­self. This year I will be dou­bling my in­come. Give it a try. It will ab­so­lutely change your life.”

Or not.

“The se­cret of suc­cess is learn­ing how to use pain and plea­sure in­stead of hav­ing pain

and plea­sure use you,” Rob­bins has tes­ti­fied. “If you do that, you’re in con­trol of your life. If you don’t, life con­trols you.”

You mean all this pain — one play­off dis­ap­point­ment af­ter an­other — and the Cap­i­tals haven’t fig­ured out how to use it?

I think it’s go­ing to take more than three hours with Tony Rob­bins to fix this.

Cap­i­tals coach Barry Trotz thought he had it fixed. He talked about the “room,” re­fer­ring to the lead­er­ship in the Cap­i­tals locker room, and how it has grown into a cul­ture of win­ning since he took over three years ago.

Then this team — the NHL’s Pres­i­dent’s Tro­phy win­ners for the best record in the league dur­ing the sea­son — barely wins Game 1 in over­time be­fore their home crowd. Then they lose the next two and now find them­selves down 2-1 in the se­ries to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team that, ac­cord­ing to Tony Rob­bins, his pupils had “de­stroyed” weeks ear­lier.

“They’re cap­i­tal­iz­ing on their mo­ments, we’re not,” Trotz said.

Fail­ure to score on a 5 on 3 ad­van­tage would be one of those mo­ments.

I think Rob­bins had some­thing to say about that.

“It is in your mo­ments of de­ci­sion that your des­tiny is shaped,” he once said.

What is wrong with the Cap­i­tals? Like Den­nis Quaid said as Doc Hol­l­i­day in “Wy­att Earp,” “What have you got?”

They’re get­ting out-hus­tled and out­played.

“We were just on our heels, not be­ing as­sertive, not be­ing con­fi­dent,” Matt Niska­nen told re­porters af­ter Mon­day night’s 4-3 over­time loss in Game 3 in Toronto.. “They took it to us. They out­played us in the third pe­riod.”

And, ac­cord­ing to some, they are be­ing out­coached.

CSN Mid At­lantic Cap­i­tals an­a­lyst and for­mer player Alan May, ap­pear­ing on The Junkies on 106.7 The Fan Tues­day morn­ing, sug­gested Maple Leafs coach Mike Bab­cock is win­ning the bat­tles on the ice.

“I think the ad­just­ments aren’t there,” May re­sponded. “I think the way that this is be­ing coached by Mike Bab­cock right now, I think Mike Bab­cock is run­ning the Cap­i­tals’ show right now. He’s chang­ing their play­ers, when you look at what’s go­ing on, with the line de­ploy­ments. Alexan­der Ovechkin only had 15 min­utes last night. I thought Alexan­der Ovechkin was fly­ing, and he needed to be on the ice with [T.J.] Oshie and [Nick­las] Back­strom a lot more, 5 on 5.”

Un­der-uti­liz­ing Ovechkin doesn’t make sense, he said.

“You still have to put him on the ice, I don’t care about the penal­ties,” May said. “Fif­teen min­utes through­out the en­tire game is not enough. He’s got to play more. Ev­ery­body’s go­ing to point the fin­gers at that damn guy, and there’s a lot of guys that aren’t pulling their weight. But I’m telling you what: Ovechkin’s pulling his weight, Back­strom’s pulling his, T.J.’s pulling his. Other play­ers need to step up.

“When you have the best goalscorer in hockey, and maybe the best line in hockey through the reg­u­lar sea­son, put them on the ice and let them do what they do,” May said. “You have to score more goals to win the se­ries. The Caps aren’t scor­ing the goals to win the se­ries right now be­cause the top line’s not where they need to be, and that’s on the ice.”

Trotz wouldn’t be the first Cap­i­tals coach to di­min­ish Ovechkin’s role in the play­offs. Dale Hunter turned him into a part-time player in the 2012 play­offs. Ar­guably, that was the best play­off-style hockey the Cap­i­tals have played in the Ovechkin era.

You know play­off style hockey, don’t you? It’s some­thing like this:

“Once you get into the play­offs, the seed­ing doesn’t re­ally mat­ter,” Toronto’s Aus­ton Matthews told re­porters. “It’s who wants it more.”

I think Rob­bins had some­thing to say about this as well:

“There are a lot of talk­ers in the world. There are a lot of peo­ple who know what’s right and what’s pow­er­ful, yet still aren’t pro­duc­ing the re­sults they de­sire. It’s not enough to talk the talk. You’ve got to walk the talk.”


Down 2-1 in the se­ries, Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals coach Barry Trotz said the Toronto Maple Leafs are “cap­i­tal­iz­ing on their mo­ments, we’re not.”

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