Having been shut out the last two games, the Washington Capitals practiced paying the price today.
On every rush up the ice, players were forced to hit the brakes and stop in the goal crease in search of rebounds.
“Most goals are scored around the blue paint,” [Capitals coach Dale] Hunter said. “It’s hard work when you stop because a lot of times the puck won’t lay there and you have to skate all the way back. But most of the goals are scored on rebounds and it’s going to take an ugly goal.”
Some of the Capitals’ most talented forwards – [Alex] Ovechkin, [Alex] Semin and [Marcus] Johansson, in particular — often are guilty of making wide turns near the goal crease instead of stopping and paying a physical price to score goals.
“You’re gonna get hit,” Hunter said. “That’s why people like the action in front of the net.”
That the coach is preaching the “drive hard to the net and stay there” message is no surprise – Hunter was never afraid to get his nose dirty during his days in the NHL.
But you do have to wonder how players like Ovechkin and Semin feel about taking scoring lessons from a guy that never broke the 30-goal mark.
Not that Hunter is wrong about going to the tough areas of the ice. It just feels like the Capitals are constantly getting lessons in lunch-pail hockey drilled into them. Maybe it’s time to encourage some creativity out there.