The Washington Capitals' stunning first-round loss to the Montreal Canadiens has left the nation's capital in mourning. Though they had the NHL's best regular-season record and MVP front-runner Alex Oveckhin, the Caps are out of the playoffs after blowing a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 series lead. After losing a Game 7 for the third consecutive season, Washington faces a host of sports columnists eager to assign blame.

  • It's on Oveckhin  The Washington Post's Tracee Hamilton singles out the Capitals' captain and resident superstar for not inspiring his teammates in the year's biggest game. "Can you be the best hockey player in the world if your team underachieves to such a degree?" she questions. "Was this series a referendum on Ovechkin and his place in the hockey galaxy? The answer is probably yes. When you are so clearly the face of the franchise, and the franchise so clearly fails, what does that say about you?"
  • Look to the Power Play  At Sports Illustrated, Sarah Kwak takes a break from praising Canadiens' goalie Jaroslav Halek to bash the Capitals' abysmal results when they had a man advantage. "The Capitals' unit, once an unstoppable force that scored at a 25.4 percent clip during in the regular season, was absolutely abysmal, going 1-for-33 against the Canadiens this series," she reports, warning Washington not to blame the loss on a disallowed goal in the third period. "So while Washington will bemoan the iffy goalie interference call on Ovechkin's waved-off goal in the first minute of the third period, they can't deny the chances they were afforded throughout the series and the chances that they couldn't convert on."
  • Culture of Collapse Continues  "The Capitals have failed to make good on their vast potential for two straight postseasons," writes ESPN's Scott Burnside, who references an intangible quality of champions the Caps currently lack. "Call it heart or soul or character or whatever you want, but the Capitals don't seem to have it," he claims. "And until they find it, it's hard to imagine there won't be more of these shocking conclusions in the nation's capital."