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 CSNWashington.com’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.)
This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.
Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.
While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.
There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.
Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.
Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:
It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.