Former Washington coach Bruce Boudreau hasn’t forgiven Jaroslav Halak for what he did to the Capitals.
Boudreau’s Ducks host Halak and the Blues tonight. Thus, the question about 2010.
To refresh your memory, Halak led the underdog Canadiens to a shocking first-round upset of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals in 2010. He stopped all but three of the 134 shots he faced in In Games 5, 6 and 7, and was named first star in all three outings.
“I thought we had a good chance to win the Stanley Cup this year,” Boudreau said after Game 7, “and I would have bet my house that they wouldn’t have beaten us three games in a row and we would have only scored three goals in almost 140 shots.”
The Habs advanced to the second round where they pulled off another upset, this time over the defending champion Penguins, and once again in large part due to Halak.
So it wasn’t just the Caps who fell victim to brilliant goaltending.
But for Washington, the first-round elimination led to a major change in strategy. The next season Boudreau was preaching defense while eschewing run-and-gun hockey. The Capitals still won a lot of regular-season games, but they scored almost 100 fewer goals and were swept in the second round of the playoffs by Tampa Bay.
Along the way, Washington’s superstar, Alex Ovechkin, seemed to lose his zest for the game. Clearly the new, conservative approach wasn’t as fun to play. Or, for that matter, watch.
All of which begs the question, if Boudreau thought Halak was such a major factor in the series, why did he change his team’s style so dramatically? Not saying the Caps would’ve done any better if they kept running and gunning — just wondering which direction they would’ve taken if not for an unheralded goalie that went on an amazing run.