Lost in the shuffle of “Boudreau out, Hunter in” was another significant change behind the Washington Capitals bench — assistant/defense coach Bob Woods was turfed in favor of ex-NHL defenseman Jim Johnson.
Johnson and Hunter played in Washington together from 1993-96 before joining the coaching ranks. Hunter went the OHL route while Johnson worked as an assistant with the U.S. national development team before becoming the head coach with AHL Norfolk.
“Dale and I, we speak the same language,” Johnson told CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley following his first practice with the Caps. “I showed him some ideas of what I was doing when I took over in Norfolk and how I went in there to turn that team around in a very short period of time.
“We have a lot of the same philosophies and ideas and obviously, I’ve got a lot of admiration for Dale.”
Johnson will take over Woods’ role of handling Washington’s defensive pairings, which should be interesting to watch. With Mike Green and Tom Poti hurt, the Caps have been rolling Dmitry Orlov-Roman Hamrlik, Dennis Wideman-John Erskine and John Carlson-Karl Alzner. (Of note, Johnson’s son Derik played with Carlson on the U.S. national team.)
But based on Johnson’s philosophical approach to defensive play, one wonders if a change is on the horizon.
“I think if you can play a speed game, you can have success. But you’ve got to have some structure within that speed game,” Johnson said. “I think in order to create offense at this level you’ve got to get the defense up in the play. You don’t need them leading the rush.”
Video: Here’s Johnson speaking with Caps365 about his coaching style and defensive ideas.
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”