Why Alex Ovechkin Throwing Gang Signs is a Good Thing

Photo credit: Michael Martin

For those of you who stayed up late Saturday with the hopes of getting an up-close-and-personal look at #AvsFailWatch, sorry. The Capitals are scuffling. The team has mustered only one goal in each of the past three games (1-2-0), they have failed to win more than two straight games since starting the season 7-0, and they have an unimpressive 4-5-0 record since Dale Hunter was hired as coach. 31 games into the season, the Caps are in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and would not qualify for the playoffs if they started today. Bummer city.

While it’s easy to fret about all the unmet expectations this season, there are also some positive changes going on– though you might have to get out a magnifying glass to see them.

First, the Capitals are giving up nearly one less goal per game under Hunter (3.27 GAA with Bruce, 2.55 with Dale). Five-on-five, the Capitals are finally subscribing to more of a chip-and-chase system and are trying to be a tougher team to compete against. “Unfortunately, it’s a really hard way to play,” Tomas Vokoun recently explained to CSN’s Chuck Gormley. “But it’s the only way you can win a Stanley Cup. And the sooner we learn it as a team the better off we’re going to be.”

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Brooks Laich

Early Monday morning , DC101′s Elliot in the Morning interviewed Brooks Laich. Before practice, Laich talked extensively about Dale Hunter, the system he’s bringing to Washington, the firing of Bruce Boudreau, and the awkwardness surrounding Dennis Wideman’s almost-hat trick.

Below the jump, I’ve transcribed a good chunk of the two’s talk.

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Toronto Maple Leafs Pregame: Make Belief Again!

Doug Johnson, Puck Buddy, files your pregame report. Tweet.

The PreGame: On Wednesday night, we saw flashes of brilliance. Perhaps our squad has turned the corner. We finally figured out the PP. And yet, for the past four weeks, we’ve seen things we haven’t wanted to see. Ugly things. Things we’ve flinched from; things we’ve shielded our juvenile eyes away from. Things a pure heart shouldn’t see: the last gasping moments of the Boudreau era. We think it’s time to banish what was… for what is now.

There comes a moment when we own our time. Tonight we declare: an end to what was.

[Call the Spirits! North, South... East and West...Harken to me now! Hear us!]

Bruce – Juggles – is passed.  And now, like a veil lifted from our eyes, we see again our gallant Capitals squad. God Save the King! We will love you always Coach, but you are now past us. Be well, and fear the Caps.

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Epic Stats: How the Caps Look After 25 Games

Photo credit: Rob Carr

Warning: You’re about to read statistics from someone who can’t keep score at Scrabble.

The Washington Capitals started their season with a 7-game winning streak. They were the talk of the league, a team made of smiles and wins.

They would go on to lose 12 of their next 18 games, their head coach, and their confidence. As of game 25, the Capitals are in a three-way tie for 8th in the Eastern Conference. For perspective, the players on the 9th place team usually get started on their suntans a little earlier than everyone else.

This article takes a look at the numbers behind the Caps season to date to try and give its schizophrenia some context. I’ll look at shots on goal, save percentage, puck possession, power play, and penalty kill.

Because with all of the opinions about why the Caps have fell so far (many I’ve posited myself), I owe you guys some objective assessment without the usual bluster or pageantry.

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Andrew Gordon Bruce Boudreau

Boudreau and Gordon look on from the bench. (Photo credit: Debora Robinson)

Photo credit: Mark J. Terrill

You couldn’t write a better script. After 24 games under head coach Randy Carlyle, Andrew Gordon had not scored a goal and the Ducks were among the worst teams in the NHL. Enter Bruce Boudreau. In the second period of Gabby’s coaching debut with the Ducks, Gordo netted his second career NHL goal — his first since December 21, 2010, which he celebrated by kissing Marcus Johansson – knocking in a rebound off of a Ben Maxwell shot past Ilya Bryzgalov. As NHL.com’s Dave Lozo observed, Gordon is probably the first player in NHL history to get his first career goals on two different teams with the same coach.

If you follow me past the jump, you can check out video of his goal.

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Frustration, Hope as Caps Offense M.I.A Once Again

(Photo credit: Nick Wass)

The Dale Hunter era hasn’t exactly started with a bang. With Hunter looking for his first NHL win behind the bench and the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby playing Washington for the first time since his Winter Classic concussion heard ’round the world, everybody from TSN to The New York Times descended on the Verizon Center Thursday night. And for the second game in a row the Caps were easily outplayed and doubled up in shots on goal (65 to 36 over the two games) — even if they lost by just one tally.

Still, the Caps aren’t exactly playing like Bruce Boudreau remains behind the bench. The team has instituted Hunter’s new defensive system (they had the second worst goal-against average in the league under the old regime) which will take some getting used to. The players, of course, know this as they made an even more dramatic shift in their play in the midst of their eight-game losing streak less than one year ago. So far, though, it’s yet to yield a victory.

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Anaheim Ducks Name Bruce Boudreau New Head Coach

Bruce Boudreau Anaheim Ducks

Well, that didn’t take long. Three days after being fired by the Washington Capitals, Bruce Boudreau has landed in Anaheim to be the new head coach of the Ducks. He replaces Randy Carylye, who helped guide Anaheim to a Stanley Cup in 2007.

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Bruce Boudreau Fired, Dale Hunter Hired

Former Capital Alan May took to the airwaves after tonight’s 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres to call out the Capitals on their performance. Warning: he’s mad.

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Nadir: Sabres beat Caps 5-1

 Dave Sandford

Zack Kassian beats Tomas Vokoun. (Photo credit: Dave Sandford)

The Washington Capitals hopped on up to Buffalo, intending to shake off last night’s bad beat by whipping the Sabres. The injury-wracked Buffalo team missed a big chunk of its lineup, but they did not miss many scoring chances. And the Caps were just plain awful.

Luke Adam caught an easy bounce after Dennis Wideman’s failed clearing attempt. Jason Pominville scored his ninth of the year when Tomas Vokoun couldn’t find the puck. Jason Chimera drew a penalty shot and fired it so hard it disintegrated in the net. The very next shift– just half a minute later, toddler Zack Kassian recorded his first NHL goal– making it 3-1. Luke Adam opened the third period with a mean snapshot. Jochen Hecht beat Mathieu Perreault to record a shorthanded goal and finalize it. Sabres beat Caps 5-1.

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