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Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals: Slump Stopped At Eight

Washington CapitalsThat’s right! The Capitals’ losing streak ended at eight with a 3-2 comeback win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday evening. The worst slump of Bruce Boudreau’s tenure as Washington coach is finally over and, as we saw from his reaction at the final horn, and may have guessed would be the case from his antics in HBO’s 24/7 series (which was awesome by the way), Boudreau was as happy as anyone to see the team return to winning ways.

Mathieu Perreault notched two goals in the game, and Eric Fehr the other, in what was a spectacular second period for the Caps. And those two were the key players for in this win. The likes of Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green all had a good game; but in the end, it was secondary scoring which led the Caps to victory. The team went back to basics, as Boudreau has said they should many times in the past couple of weeks, and the grinders got it done. The signs were there during Saturday’s game in Boston – Matt Bradley was the star that night with a spirited fight and the goal which gave the team hope, and the Capitals went on to outshoot the Bruins 26-2 in the third period. Still, though, the Caps’ losing streak was extended, though undeservingly so. And it seemed like it was going to be another loss in Ottawa as the Sens sprang to a 2-0 lead. But whatever Bruce Boudreau said in the first intermission worked. The Caps three second period goals were all quite scrappy, but that was the only way they would get out of their funk; by playing hard, grinding hockey.

Another key factor was some solid defensive play. Finally. Not only was Michal Neuvirth good in net, for the majority of the game, especially in the third period, but the Caps were able to maintain some structure and discipline on defense without hindering the offense. The main struggle during the streak was for the Caps trying to implement the new, more defensively balanced system advocated by coach Boudreau, whilst not preventing Ovechkin and friends from maintaining their firepower going forward. We saw against Boston the problems the forward were having with the new system, as they over-back-checked, leaving acres of space at the point and in the slot. Add to that some less-than-spectacular goaltending from Varlamov and Neuvirth, and the Caps struggled. But against the Senators, it was a more consistent performance defensively – the kind the coaching staff will want to see on a more regular basis in the regular season, in preparation for playoff hockey.

Of course, as Boudreau was quick to point out after the game, this is just one win in 9 games. The key is moving on from it. And, in a way, the win is just at the right time. The Caps face the surprise season strugglers the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, before Thursday’s mega-match against the Penguins. With the slump now over, and hopefully another win under their belts, the Caps may be heading into the big game with confidence restored.

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One comment for “Washington Capitals: Slump Stopped At Eight”

  1. I caught part of the game, nice comeback from 2 down. It’s tough - everyone runs into a slump and a team like your Caps will break out of it sooner or later, but when you’re in it - panic sets in!

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | December 20, 2010, 9:06 pm

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