The Capitals were in desperate need of a change, and now they’ve got it. Bruce Boudreau is out as head coach, fired by the team this morning and replaced by former Capitals captain and tough guy Dale Hunter.
The move comes after speculation ran hot last night that a potential move was coming thanks to a report from Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos. Turns out Kypreos had it right and now the Capitals, who have been mired in an awful funk all season, will get the change they’ve been in need of since last season.
Hunter comes in in the same position Boudreau was in when he was named head coach of the Capitals years ago in that he’s never been a coach in the NHL. Instead, Hunter comes via junior hockey where he was the owner and head coach of the OHL’s London Knights. Much like Brent Sutter in Calgary, Hunter will put aside his ownership duties to coach in the NHL. Sutter is owner of the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL.
This time, however, Hunter comes into a situation where the Capitals absolutely have to get things turned around. Alex Ovechkin has slumped all season long and his scoring numbers have fallen off hard, Alex Semin leads the team in penalties rather than being anywhere near the top in goals, and the defense and goaltending have been sub-par to put it nicely. Hunter comes in with one designation from his playing days: He’s the one captain of the Capitals that led the team to a Stanley Cup finals appearance.
Adding to all that, the team just appeared to not enjoy playing hockey anymore. If Hunter coaches at all the same way as he played, business is about to pick up in a big way in D.C. One thing is for sure, Hunter’s got a lot of work to do get these Capitals back to normal. If a change at the top is all that they needed to make it happen, GM George McPhee will be the smartest guy in the world.
You’d think the reaction to taking a skate to the face would be something like “Not coming back to that game, getting some ice and maybe do some soul-searching.”
Nope, not in the NHL, at least.
In this league, the real reaction is almost always to come back to the same game … and barely miss a beat.
Ottawa Senators Mark Stone provides the latest example of hockey toughness, as he bounced back almost immediately from this.
What did he do? He scored a nice goal in the Senators’ 6-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.
As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?
If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.
Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.
Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.
The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.
On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.
(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)
As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.
Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.