Brooks Laich

Laich on Caps: “I think we’re tougher to play against”


When the Washington Capitals fired coach Bruce Boudreau, the team was 12-9-1. Since the hiring of Dale Hunter, the team is…12-9-1.

That statistical tidbit courtesy’s Chuck Gormley, who’s understandably wondering if the Caps are any different under their new bench boss.

One player that believes things have changed for the better is forward Brooks Laich.

“I think we’re tougher to play against,” Laich said. “I think we don’t give up the easy goals and glorious scoring chances we did before. Odd-man rushes was the first thing he said he wanted to correct. Teams have to go through three, four five guys to score on us. We’re blocking more shots. Shift lengths are shorter.”

Hunter concurs: “You see how many shots we’re blocking. That’s caring about winning and losing. That’s how you win games. When you block 20 shots a game, that’s 20 less pucks going to the net that could go in.

“That’s a big thing, and the puck hurts. Guys shoot the puck hard, and when you go down to block, that’s a commitment to win. If you block shots, you’re going to reward guys. Everybody rates their games on goals and assists, but you’ve got to also rate them on back-checking hard, blocking shots, finishing hits.”

The Caps had won three straight before yesterday when they were shut out on home ice, 3-0, by the Islanders.

Washington managed just 17 shots on Evgeni Nabokov last night, just seven of them in the third period when they were trailing and should’ve theoretically been pushing the play.

But hey, 13 blocked shots.

(The Isles had 18.)

Bad news for Boedker: Coyotes won’t face Sens again in 2015-16

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Sorry Mikkel Boedker, you won’t get to face the Ottawa Senators again this season.

OK, it could happen if the speedster is traded from the Arizona Coyotes. He could also face the Senators in the unlikely instance that the two teams fight it out in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Beyond those two possibilities, Saturday night was it, and Boedker must have been licking his chops much like an actual coyote.

For the second straight game, Boedker managed a hat trick against the Senators, helping Arizona beat Ottawa 4-3 last night. His third tally stood as the game-winner in a 4-3 victory.

You can watch all three goals in the video above.

It’s oddly fitting that Boedker has three goals this season … against teams not named the Ottawa Senators.

Hey, Tortorella called the Penguins whiners again

John Tortorella

Don’t forget, the Blue Jackets – Penguins rivalry isn’t just about the bitterness between Sidney Crosby and Brandon Dubinsky; John Tortorella can fuel the fire, too.

Torts must not have been happy about the one-game suspension that Dubinsky received for cross-checking Crosby, as he channeled his vintage self in essentially calling the Penguins a bunch of whiners.

You can see from this glorious Sportsnet video, Tortorella said: “Pittsburgh whines enough for the whole league.”

(He also said the Blue Jackets weren’t going to whine by … whining. Good stuff.)

As Puck Daddy notes, this isn’t the first time Torts claimed that the Penguins are whiners.

Both the Blue Jackets and Penguins lost their games on Saturday, but clearly some eyes and ears were still focused on their last confrontation.

In case you’re wondering, the two teams next face off in Pittsburgh on Dec. 21.


Scary moment: Carlo Colaiacovo hospitalized with ‘dented trachea’


Buffalo Sabres defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo has experienced plenty of bad injury luck in his winding career, but Saturday presented one of his worst scares.

As you can see from the video above, Colaiacovo received a scary cross-check from Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators, who received a major penalty and game misconduct.

Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma said that Colaiacovo was hospitalized with a “dented trachea” yet is OK, the Buffalo News’ John Vogl reports.

Frightening stuff from an eventual 4-1 Sabres win.

PHT will keep an eye out for additional updates regarding Colaiacovo’s health (and a possible suspension for Arvidsson).

Comeback Kings: Gaborik pulls L.A. past Kane, Blackhawks

Jake Muzzin, Scott Darling

Patrick Kane set an American scoring record, and added another assist to make it more impressive, but the Los Angeles Kings just wouldn’t be denied.

In the end, Marian Gaborik‘s big night meant more than Kane’s; he scored the tying and then overtime game-winner, both assisted by Anze Kopitar, for a rousing 4-3 overtime Kings win.

Gaborik’s first goal:

And here’s video of the OT-GWG:

Noticing a theme tonight? Yeah, it’s been an evening in which it’s dangerous to assume a lead would stand.

With that, the Kings stick to the No. 1 spot in the Pacific Division, but Chicago shouldn’t feel all bad. The Blackhawks were able to piece together a decent run during their dreaded “circus trip.”