I’ve been following the comments here for quite some time, and felt that I needed to add my 2 cents to the discussion. Does it suck that we got bounced from the first round of the playoffs? Of course it does. Is it really all that surprising? Probably not. Of all the matchups we could have hoped for in the first round, this was the one that I dreaded the most. We just do not match up against the Bruins, and haven’t all season. Our record against the Bruins during the regular season: 2-4, our record in the post season: 2-4. Obviously we need to improve on this, but the gloom and doom attitude around here is a bit of an overreaction.
That being said, this is what I feel we need to do this offseason. First, we do not need to make changes to the coaching staff or upper management. We lost our top two players 3 years ago, plus a countless number of free agents/trades, only to come back and be competitive the last two years, and win the division this year. That seems like the right path to me. No need to shake things up just yet. In terms of players here’s what I would like to see. For our free agents, we need to resign Kaleta and Grier, either Tallinder or Lydman but not both, and 2 out of 3 of the McCormick, Mair, Ellis, platter, preferably all three, as none of them should break the bank, and they’re all good soldiers who don’t complain about playing time and fill out the bench.
The only player I’d be interested in moving is Stafford. We’ve all seen enough of him to know he’s quickly turning into another Kotalik, a big guy who plays smaller than Gerbe, and is unable or unwilling to do the things we expect from a power forward. We keep Connolly and Roy unless things completely fall apart next season, or we get some ridiculous offer we just can’t refuse.
In terms of acquisitions, I see a big bodied forward and a gritty defenseman as our two major needs. Also if we can bring Biron back into the fold I’d definitely pull the trigger. Miller will have more time off next year without the Olympics, but we still need someone capable of winning some games throughout the year. If we make these moves and keep Ennis and Gerbe up all year I like the way this team will look.
Vanek – Connolly – Forward X
Ennis – Roy – Pominville
Gerbe – Hecht – Kennedy
Kaleta – Gaustad – Grier
(We bring these guys in for grit earlier in a series than we did this year, when our guys need a wake up call)
Myers – Talinder/Defenseman X
Rivet – Lydman/Defenseman X
Montador – Sekara/Butler/Weber
Looking at this team, I actually would be ok not even picking up a top forward and moving Grier up with Connolly and starting McCormick every night on the 4th line. We end up with 2 pretty big lines, and 2 lines of smurfs that can wear out the other team with the speed of Ennis and Gerbe alone.
I feel that this team is moving in the right direction and just got caught in a bad matchup in the first round. We keep forgetting how young this team is and how big a step getting back to the playoffs really was. We need to build on this year, not start over. And hey, things could always be worse. We could be Caps fans.