Bruce Boudreau Back in the Old Barn: Ducks beat Caps 3-2

Perry and Beagle - Patrick McDermott

Perreault and Beagle (Photo: Patrick McDermott)

I feel sorry for all the johnny-come-lately fans who never knew Bruce Boudreau’s Caps. You know who I’m talking about: all those fake fans who started following the Caps just because of the undeniable electricity of Hunter hockey. Those trendy, fairweather fans who only bought their first Caps shirsey because they saw Ovi pile on an inconceivable 38 goals back in 2011-2012. All they ever knew of the Caps was the unlimited delight of low puck possession and the benching of fan-hated Mike Knuble.

Okay, starting over.

If you were to make a list of things that turned this franchise around in the last decade, you’d see Bruce Boudreau’s name somewhere right underneath Alex Ovechkin and the return to the red uniforms. Now Boudreau is with the Ducks and positively killing it in the Western Conference. Boose brought his league-leading team to Verizon Center for his first game since getting fired more than two years ago. The crowd and the team seemed to appreciate the emotional dimension, and we fans got a decent, if uneven, game out of it.

Mikhail Grabovski got the Caps on the board first by tapping in a pass from Troy Brouwer (and helped along by Ben Lovejoy). Nicky Backstrom converted a power play four minutes later with a sneaky shot to Jonas Hiller’s shoulder. Andrew Cogliano got the Ducks into the game by sweeping up the shards of a broken Caps defense.

The second period was polluted by penalties, and Saiku Koivu tied it with a bang-bang in the waning seconds. Hampus Lindholm got a puck through a crowded shooting lane and well-screened Philipp Grubauer to put the Ducks up with five minutes left. Alex Ovechkin rang the post, and our hearts sank.

Ducks beat Caps 3-2.

  • Watch as the Ice Cheetah drags water fowl back to his nest.
  • Marcus Johansson didn’t score, but he did go for a stuff shot that I would’ve called uncharacteristic a few months ago. Between that and his unholy penalties-committed/penalties-drawn ratio, he’s my pick for Most Improved Capitals player. (I’d still put Fehr on the top line, but that’s just cause I’m a hopeless homer and Fehr fanboy.)
  • Lots of bad defense by the top line and the Orlov/Green defensive pair on the Koivu goal. Orlov lost his man, Green marked up no one in particular, and Ovechkin might as well have got a cool pic of the goal for Instagram if he’s gonna skate so hard just to get a nice look at it.
  • The Capitals hung with the Ducks in the first period, but that chippy second period didn’t play to their advantage. That tying goal by Saku Koivu (still in my top-10 list of Most Star Wars Extended Universe hockey player names) was kind of an inevitability looking at the shot attempt chart, which I’ll share in comments as usual. The Ducks took control of this one after the first intermission and never let go.
  • Please make fun of this:

  • I was thoroughly entertained by the speed and determination Alex Ovechkin showed when getting the eff off the ice once the power play was over. I was thoroughly dispirited by his shot ringing the crossbar in the game’s final minutes.
  • Brooks Laich returned to action for the first time since November 27 after a bout of #brittlegroin. Laich served mostly on the fourth line and the PK, which is like exactly where I said I wanted him ten days ago. STOP READING MY BLOG, COACH.
  • Oates did switch it up in the third, putting Laich between Chimera and Ward just in time for the go-ahead goal for the Ducks. So much for line matching.
  • In what I interpret as a sort of randomized controlled trial for playing the hot hand, Adam Oates gave Philipp Grubauer another start despite two healthy and proven goaltenders looking bored and playing Candy Crush somewhere in the building. Unwise.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

Bruce Boudreau’s Ducks have won nine games in a row.

I really liked the Capitals team we saw in the first period. Great forecheck and work in neutral, threatening the net at even strength and drawing penalties, sloughing off the ceremonial man-on-man coverage Ovi gets during the power play.

I guess all those penalties in the second interrupted the momentum, as we didn’t see any of that good stuff in the latter forty. The Caps didn’t put many pucks on net– either overall or in proportion to the Ducks. That’s a serious problem that requires remedy, though I guess we did see some respectable back-and-forth action between the blue lines. But with Bruce Boudreau in the house, I had really hoped for something on the order of 80 shots overall.

I guess I’ll have to live with the disappointment. I can do that. I’ve been getting good at that ever since Boudreau’s dismissal back in the late 80s.

No worries. It’s only hockey.

If you’re celebrating a holiday this season, please have a happy one.

May your days be merry and bright.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I liked the effort and lack of any real huge mistakes. I think we definitely deserved a point. Fehr being hauled down with 45 seconds left and no call made me only a little angry but the power play never really got it going anyway. Moving on to the Rags.

  • Jack Conness

    Not too much to take from the game. I thought Backstrom, Grabo, and Erat looked good. Can we PLEASE see a Grabo extension soon? HE HAS TO STAY WITH THE CAPS! I also thought Mike Green had another sloppy night. Still not pleased with his play.

  • Bob

    Its becoming comical how this team stops playing with a lead and how they cant win in regulation. Every game it becomes more evident how far away this team is from competing for a cup. Good game by Nicky, Grabo, and Gruby though

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Ducks took over after the first.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Also what kind of angle did they show in house that convinced 18,000 that, that was a good goal? Was clearly crossbar and down.

  • Chris Cerullo

    It’s getting to the point where I’m so very sick of seeing that same similar graph night in and night out. Even in victories. I don’t understand why they refuse to change anything. We have a solid 11 ROW, tied with Winnipeg and Calgary + Florida trailing just behind with 10.

  • Marky Narc

    None of the Caps’ D had a particularly good game.

    Also, ridiculously frustrating when the first shift Oates switches Erat and Laich, the 3rd line gets scored upon. I feel like I’ve been duped into thinking Adam Oates is a good coach.

    Still, not a complete stinker of a game. The Caps had a great first period against an obviously superior team. [insert comment here about how the Caps always play to the level of their opponent.] The 4th line was doing fine until Oates derped around with it. Ovi played like Ovi — soooooo close with the shot off the crossbar late.

    Meh. Anyway. There’s hot cocoa to be had in the kitchen right now, so that’s where I’m headed. (Terry) Murray Christmas, everyone.

  • Freedoooom

    If only Laich focused on hockey like he did giving interviews to GQ.

    Oh yeah Scott Cherrey is a moron. He was the linesman on the side that Capitals shot twice. He was making icing calls from the blue line. Couldn’t be bothered to go and do his job to make the right call.

  • yv

    No mentioning of GW, no-look pass through the center by Carlson to Lindholm? I watched Ducks feed, even theirs excellent commentators exclaimed about that clearing pass “o, boy, o boy”.

  • riggorules

    Missed the game for a holiday party that wouldn’t allow me to turn on the TV … did Gabby at least get a standing O or a video tribute of some kind?

  • yv

    they only showed center ice camera views w/o overhead and screwed the fans.

  • JenniferH

    Grabo and Fehr never disappoint. I’m tired of the goalie experiment. Put Holtby back in the net regularly except for back-to-backs. Let Holts play Candy Crush on his own time! The 1st period was some great hockey. The 2nd and 3rd? Yeah, I kinda dozed off. *sigh*

    Sniff, sniff. I guess I’m a johnny-come-lately fan…. but at least I didn’t jump on board because of any of the reasons you listed. It was Holtby’s fabulous playoff-run in 2012 that made me a Caps fan! Yes, that’s why I’m such a Holtby fan. The 2012 Capital playoffs were the first hockey games I ever watched.

    Sorry, I can not make fun of Ian’s antlers, I love any man who’s gonna share in the holiday spirit with the rest of the interwebz! :D

    Merry Christmas, Peter and the rest of RNMB staff (who celebrate)… you guys rock tremendously! :D

  • Freedoooom

    36 and 33 CF% for Grabovski and Fehr respectively.

    Ovechkin 73.9. Such a great game by the top line.

  • JenniferH

    Erm, I don’t understand fancy stats really (unless it’s Goalie stats) so I don’t know if you’re agreeing or disagreeing with me on Grabi and Fehr. :(

  • Freedoooom

    It means the shot attempts while they were on the ice was Over 60% in favor of the Ducks.

  • JessHughes

    Given that I thought we’d lose this game 2-6, losing by 1 isn’t so bad…just kidding still hoping Santa brings the Caps a way to break out of their own end with speed and possession through the neutral zone. Happy Holidays to my fellow Caps fans and RMNB devotees.

  • JenniferH

    Grabo and Fehr aren’t defensemen though, so what does that have to with anything? Wow, you really do look to just rain on parades. :( Grabo and Fehr are awesome. They make plays and get assists and score shots and do awesome passes left and right.

  • FoolsRushLandHannityIn

    Washington Capitals – snatching defeat from the jaws of victory since 1974.
    Installed new rope-a-dope playing style in 2011, w/side order of defensive / passing incompetence in 2013 in order to demoralize original fan base once & for all.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Sorry to further rain on the parade but shot attempts against are never only the defenses’ fault.

  • Nhl96

    I clicked on that kickstarter link with every intention of donating…

  • JenniferH

    Oh, you’re not, I’ve noticed with this particular poster, they kinda do it a lot. And I know that it’s not just defense, but to take my blanket statement about Grabo and Fehr being awesome and taking one aspect of their play (which isn’t even their main thing) and ignoring all the awesome that they do do (which IS their main thing) was my issue. And that’s what the poster did.

  • Chip

    yeah they only showed one angle that made it look like it hit right at the top inside the goal (like hitting the water bottle off) and bounced out and they showed that angle about 10x without ever showing another angle, so for fans it really did look like it went in.

  • EmilyC

    Kinda sad not even a mention of Matty P’s return in this write up; was his presence in the building even acknowledged? By the fans or former teammates? Are we just over him then?

  • Matt

    Possesion usually is Grabo and Fehr’s biggest strength, but they were strangely bad at it tonight.

  • FoolsRushLandHannityIn

    He couldn’t make the Caps’ roster but plays for a superior Ducks’ squad.
    Good thing we made room for Wilson & Latta, and got that 4th round pick in next year’s draft, along with 28 y.o. Hershey Bear John Mitchell.

  • Graham Dumas

    #smallsamplesize

  • Dark Stranger

    It just seemed they could never make room for Matty P. If anything, it seems the Caps personnel is on a downward spiral. Trading their 1st rounder Forsberg for Erat who never really could fit in with Caps. (Wilson was probably not really ready for prime time NHL duty.)

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I woulda fit him in, but he didn’t do anything noteworthy at all. Even possession, one shot on net, etc. Vanilla.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Ovi’s line was awesome in the OZ.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    We’re never gonna give Grabo up
    Never gonna make him cry

  • H70

    Love Grabo. He plays hard, very hard for a temp, and is one of only a few driving plays.

    But, could somebody please make this goalie madness stop??? I like Grubi a lot, but uhhhh…we have 2 pros sitting around collecting millions and going stale.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Nothing.

  • kemiisto

    The last chance for McPhee is to fire Oates asap and finally bring a coach with head coaching experience at NHL level. Laviolette and Boucher are available right now. Oates is not even a mediocre, he is way below mediocrity. I’ve seen enough to say that he is one more example of great player and poor coach. “All this has happened before. All this will happen again.” (c) BSG

  • Roy Schue

    He deserved better

  • Roy Schue

    Brouwer about gave home whiplash when he pulled him by the back off his jersey to get him outta Grubauer’s face…lol

  • Barrett

    A guy named “Hampus” scored the GWG, that pretty much sums up the season so far.

  • dylan wheatley

    getting this tattooed on my butt next to the W eagle

  • EmilyC

    I could see the (lack of) play on the Gamecenter, but couldn’t see the human side of it all from afar. That’s what I was hoping for deets-wise.

  • Bob

    i have a confession, i actually watched half the video

  • Rhino40
  • Red

    Haven’t been RickRolled for a while. That took me right back to 2007/08. That was a good year, until the Flyers…