Boudreau admits he wasn’t doing “the right thing” in Washington

Bruce Boudreau is back to doing things his own way. In an interview with the Washington Post, the former Capitals coach admitted the approach he took during his final season in Washington went against his instincts.

“You’ve got to be true to yourself,” he told the Post. “I found that I was getting away from that this year. People were saying, ‘Do this’ and ‘Do that.’ I wasn’t doing what I believed was the right thing.”

It’s hardly surprising that Boudreau, now the head coach in Anaheim, began to doubt his methods. When the Caps repeatedly didn’t get the results in the playoffs, it was only natural to wonder if the critics were right.

That’s not to say the critics were necessarily wrong. For example, maybe the Capitals do need a disciplinarian type like Dale Hunter in charge. But in Boudreau’s case, a nice guy can’t just morph into a tough guy overnight. It’s not natural. It comes across as desperate. Players sense that.

There were other areas where Boudreau began to doubt himself, according to the Post:

Boudreau said he would leave the rink second-guessing his day-to-day decisions, from alignments to deciding the best roles for players. He declined to elaborate further on what caused him to question his convictions.

It’s not clear whether he regrets reigning in the Capitals’ free-wheeling ways, but it’s worth noting he’s been preaching defense since arriving in Anaheim. The Ducks have allowed just seven goals in their last five games — four of them victories — so maybe the message is getting through.

At any rate, Boudreau’s affable manner has been a welcome one for Ducks players, who apparently weren’t feeling the love from their old coach, Randy Carlyle.

“From the moment [Boudreau] got here he started asking us questions,” Teemu Selanne said. “ ‘How’s the family? What’s going on at home?’ I don’t think a lot of coaches do that; that’s something new for me, but I think it’s a very important part. He doesn’t ask just to ask. I sense he really wants to know, and that’s a great thing as we try to turn things around. He’s so positive and such a good teacher. It’s kind of wrong we haven’t given him more back yet.”

Added Bobby Ryan: “I’ve had more conversations with him in however many games it’s been than I’ve had [with other coaches] in years, and that’s really rubbed off on me because you gain confidence when you can air things out with the coach.”

Ovechkin shrugs off Caps’ Game 1 loss in very Ovechkin way

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You know, it happens. Maybe not always in those exact words.

The Washington Capitals carried the play during portions of their 3-2 Game 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and even down 1-0 in the series, just about every player seemed happy with their overall game.

(Granted, Braden Holtby picked apart two of the three goals he allowed, and so on.)

Still, Alex Ovechkin shrugged off the disappointment in a way that wasn’t quite Rated R, but probably ranks in the PG-13 range:

The penalty element is interesting, though.

When asked after the loss about the lack of power plays, Matt Niskanen merely offered a “no comment.”

The Penguins experienced some sprawling moments, yet they avoided taking a penalty each time. Often, when a team carries long sequences of play, they’ll go on the PP (especially with home-ice advantage) … but not the Capitals in Game 1.

via Natural Stat Trick

It’s a situation to watch as the Capitals hope to even the series against the Penguins with Game 2 coming on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. (You can watch online, via the NBC Sports App and follow the livestream here).

Holtby takes blame for two big goals in Caps’ loss to Pens

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It’s just about a consensus that the Washington Capitals believed that they generally played a strong game despite falling 3-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Braden Holtby‘s teammates likely wouldn’t agree with his assessment that the Game 1 loss is on his shoulders, but the perennial Vezina candidate took the blame for Sidney Crosby‘s first goal of the night and Nick Bonino‘s game-winner.

Noting that the Penguins are a dangerous rush team – making them a different threat than the Toronto Maple Leafs – Holtby believes that he should have had his glove in position to stop the 1-0 goal. He said he’s capable of making such a stop and “will next time.” Check out Crosby’s two goals below, with Holtby having a beef with the first one:

It’s really difficult to place too much blame on Holtby for giving up Nick Bonino’s game-winner, as it seemed like a great rush play that few goalies would be able to stop.

Judge for yourself in the highlights:

The Penguins were ultimately able to take a 1-0 series lead, but the Capitals seem capable of shrugging off questions about frustrations, even with naysayers starting to gain confidence in claiming that there will be more than the same.

If Washington’s going to get over this big hurdle, Holtby is likely to be a big part in doing so.

Fleury, Penguins hang on for Game 1 win against Capitals

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The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.

(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)

The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.

It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.

Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.

Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?

The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.

Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).

Karlsson makes difference for Senators vs. Lundqvist, Rangers

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Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.

Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.

That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.

Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.

Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you, stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.

Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.

Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.