Several analysts and some Washington Capitals officials pointed to the humiliating 7-1 defeat of the Capitals at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 19, as the tipping point that cost former Caps head coach Bruce Boudreau his job. At the time, the Maple Leafs were beat up and had several AHL players in the lineup, yet, the Capitals appeared in that game to be completely disinterested. It was clear to some the Caps had stopped responding to Boudreau. It was just seven days later, after a similar loss to the Buffalo Sabres, that Boudreau was sent packing.
Tonight, the Capitals look for revenge in the frinedly confines of the Verizon Center as they face off against the Leafs. The Caps are coming off an encouraging 5-3 win over Ottawa. The Ottawa game featured a long awaited nifty goal from Alexander Ovechkin and a solid three point night from John Carlson.
You can check out On Frozen Blog and see if you agree whether the 5-3 win in Ottawa was a statement win for the Capitals.
One thing we have witnessed the last few games is the reduction in ice time for Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz. I'm okay with that given the fact I am not and have never been impressed with Schultz. In my opinion, the big, lanky blue liner simply refuses to use his big frame to his advantage. For new Caps bench boss, Dale Hunter, it is more of a fit the game issue. “We’re on the road, they have the last line change. We don’t want to get in a situation where we’re mismatched defensively,” said assistant coach Jim Johnson, who works primarily with the defensemen. “It was a very difficult situation, and I told Schultzie it wasn’t for lack of trying to get him out there, but every time we had him out we either had a penalty, went on the power play or had a kill situation or they were coming up with [Ottawa’s top two lines] and I didn’t feel it was the right matchup for him or for our team last night." Here is a solid article form the Toronto Sun on overall changes that Dale Hunter is bringing to Caps hockey. The Star follows up with five questions on tonight's matchup.
Caps Streaks: (3 or more games)
* John Carlson has a three game point streak. Carlson also has back to back games registering 3 points.
Quick Stock Up and Stock Down:
UP: John Carlson. Carlson has put together consecutive games with scoring three points. Dale Hunter is allowing Carlson more offensive freedom and Carlson is responding. Karl Alzner. Alzner has gained the trust of new defensive coach Jim Johnson by playing solid defense in the defensive-first system. Hunter has responded, giving Alzner more ice time, leading all Caps in the win over the Sens with a team high 27:40 ice time.
Down: Jeff Schultz. Schultzie is clearly on the down side of Dale Hunter and Jim Johnson. His ice time was reduced to a meter 3:55 last game. Brooks Laich's equipement. Laich seems to be spending at least one or two penalty kills skating without a stick because of his stick breaking. Time to buy another brand Brooksie.