WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 19: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals makes a save against the Boston Bruins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Capitals upset might validate new strategy


The days of the Washington Capitals scoring over 300 goals in a single season seem to be firmly in the past. After winning their division for three straight seasons from 2008-10, but still falling short in the playoffs, Washington attempted to play a more defensive game, first under Bruce Boudreau and now under new coach Dale Hunter.

The Capitals struggled in the regular season, but ultimately, with the help of a hot goaltender, they made it past the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in seven games.

“We got through the first round,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. “We did that last year. So there’s relief and joy but there’s a lot of work left to do. I’ll think we improved over last year if we can get through the second round. That’s the goal, to do better year after year and this system seems to be the right system to play in the playoffs.

“To have seven one-goal games and four overtime games, this certainly was the best, most competitive series since I’ve owned the team.”

This does seem like a different breed of Capitals team. For all their offensive talent, it’s been their goaltending and defense that’s pushed them this far. The question now is if it will be enough in the second round or if all this drama will ultimately lead to another early exit.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello
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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: