And there was little reason to fiddle. The Capitals were well on their way toward winning the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in team history when Eric Belanger and Joe Corvo were brought in at the trading deadline. Even the team's goalie situation, which has been anything but static the last two seasons, appeared solved as veteran netminder Jose Theodore failed to drop a game in regulation over his last 23 starts.
Then came the Montreal Canadiens, who have caused some to reexamine the decisions of the Capitals after the Habs' two consecutive victories to push the first-round series to a decisive Game 7 at the Verizon Center on Wednesday night.
A loss by the Caps could result in a full autopsy.
"This is the NHL," McPhee told FanHouse. "The playoffs are hard. There are no easy games and nothing comes easy. We knew that coming in. We know it now."
This is the fourth consecutive series the Capitals have been in that has reached seven games. Despite being the higher seed in each, Washington's only won one.
With 90 saves on 92 shots over the last two games, Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak has been the best player on the ice -- especially in Monday's 4-1 victory in which he made 53 saves.
Meanwhile, rookie Semyon Varlamov -- who was stellar last postseason for the Capitals -- has been merely average. He's allowed a soft goal in each of the last two games, although Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau hasn't announced whether he'll switch back to Theodore in Game 7.
"We have no idea at this time," said Theodore, who was replaced in the first period of Game 2 and hasn't played since.
Semin, who scored 40 goals during the regular season, didn't take part in Tuesday's optional skate, although that's hardly a rare occurrence. Boudreau said he didn't have a problem with it and neither did his teammates.
Tom Poti, who suffered an eye injury in Game 6 and is out indefinitely, Belanger, Ovechkin and Mike Knuble also didn't skate on Tuesday.
"Guys who are logging a lot of minutes need to get some rest," Caps forward Eric Fehr said. "That's their decision if they need to get a skate in, go for it. If not, we're not going to read into anything. Players know their body better than anybody."
Semin has taken 36 shots in the series, the most by any player this postseason and 10 more than any other Caps player. Boudreau said maybe not each one of those was well-advised.
"I don't know if I agree with his shot selection," Boudreau said. "When you're growing up and your dad says don't worry about a slump as long as you're getting the chances. I think it's safe to say that the last couple games he's had a couple chances."
Bruce said if Semin gets one goal he'd likely score three more in the same game. That could be one of several routes the Caps could take toward the next round.