F Street Faithful
To say that the Capital’s goaltending has been subpar in the first third of the season would be a bit of an understatement. Tomas Vokoun, who I thought would be a revelation in net, has struggled to find his rhythm. While his numbers aren’t awful, 12-8; 2.81; .906, Tomas has yet to be good enough to steal games for the Caps. Neuvirth, meanwhile, was has been downright bad. Yes, he was hung out to dry in a few games under Bruce, but this still has not been the Neuvy that we saw last year. Last night in Winnipeg, Michal took a big step to returning to form.
Neuvirth stopped all 26 shots the Jets threw out him, en route to his first shutout of the season and his 5th career. At times, he was the only thing keeping the Caps in the game, specifically a first period that saw the Jets outshoot the Caps 14-7 and outchance them 8-4. Even as the Caps’ offense came to life in the second half of the game, Michal was needed as the Jets were able to muster up a few odd-man rushes. Even better than his statline was how he looked on the ice. He was out challenging, something he had not done consistently since the first game of the season. Although I still believe Vokoun can succeed, I think that Neuvirth has probably earned the next few starts. It very well could be that Neuvirth’s poor play was simply a result of the injury he picked up in the first week of the season. Hopefully Neuvirth’s resurgence will push Vokoun to find his stride.
Today I had the pleasure of joining Mick Kern on Sirius XM HomeIce’s The War Room to talk about the recent coaching change(s). It was a great experience for my first radio interview. Here is the audio.
Some other quick notes to get out:
The Dale Hunter era of the Washington Capitals officially began last night with a 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Despite getting the lead first, thanks to Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals were unable to give Dale a win on his first night behind the bench.
As expected, Hunter received a warm homecoming from the Verizon Center crowd. His infamous game 7-OT goal against Philadelphia was shown numerous times, and the fans were able to take in a video montage of Hunter’s time in D.C. during a TV timeout. Despite the “butterflies in the tummy,” Dale looked at home behind the bench and seemed to be constantly in the ear of the players.
added 2:05pm (Paul), added video below of GM George McPhee explaining the change.
Shortly after 8 am this morning, the Washington Capitals announced that Bruce Boudreau had been fired after 4 years as the head coach, having been replaced by former Capital captain, Dale Hunter. Hunter played 12 seasons with the Washington Capitals and is the only NHL player to have amassed 1,000 career points and 3,000 PIMs. He had spent the last 10 years coaching the OHL’s London Knights, having coached both John Carlson and Dennis Wideman. This will be Hunter’s first ever NHL coaching job.
Earlier this week, Bruce Boudreau celebrated his 4-year anniversary as bench boss for the Washington Capitals. Nobody can doubt the amazing work he has done in those 4 years. He took a team that had not made the playoffs in 4 years and turned them into a perennial contender almost immediately. He is generally given the majority of the credit from taking the Caps from last in the East to a division title. The team gradually improved over the next few seasons, culminating in a monster 2009-2010 season that saw the Caps notch 54 wins while tallying over 300 goals. The following year, despite leading the East again, was a step back as they struggled a bit in implementing Bruce’s new hybrid defense.
After starting the season to a sizzling 7-0 start, the Capitals have now lost 4 straight and 6 of the last 7. To make matters worse, the Capitals scored only 1 goal in each of their games this week, while allowing the other team to cash in for 14. To say that the Capitals are in a bad place is an understatement. On to the goals.
The Washington Capitals lost to the Nashville Predators Tuesday night by a score of 3-1. After playing 50+ scoreless minutes, Brouwer took a pass from Johansson off the rush and fired a wrister past Rinne. What looked to be the lone goal in a game dominated by both goaltenders quickly faded as Nashville quickly drew even and added a winner with under a minute to go. Shea Weber would salt the game with an empty netter from the neutral zone.
At the NHL level, a team cannot succeed based on the fact that they simply have good players. True success comes when a team is able to use the players in a way that allows each one to contribute in their own way (goals, assists, shot blocking, etc.) and do so on a consistent basis. This season the Capitals clearly have some good pieces, but have yet to show the consistency needed to find continual success. Yes, they have won 10 games out of 15, but they have also had only 1 game that saw them play a complete 60 minutes (Florida).
Consistency, in large part, is the responsibility of the coaching staff. The players do need to execute, but the coaching staff is responsible for establishing a system that allows for success. There is a lot that a coach must do to get the team to that level, but it really comes down to 2 things: choosing the right players and using them effectively. In my belief, Bruce’s constant tinkering has hindered the ability of the Caps to hit a long-term stride.
As I still look to figure out what I want this blog to look like, I will be experimenting with some various formats for game write-ups. The material should be mostly the same, just may look a little different.
The Capitals remained 6-0 at home this season, thanks to a come-from-behind, OT victory over the Anaheim Ducks. This was one of those games where a team does not deserve to leave with points, and somehow leaves with 2. Even with the Caps resiliency, it was hard to see the Caps coming out of that game with any points. What will be remembered most about this game are the changes that were made on the day of the game.
The Capitals have been rather busy in the last 48, so here is a quick rundown of what you might have missed:
On Monday, D.J. King asked the Capitals to place him on waivers. He has clearly become unhappy with his role in the organization and simply wishes to have the opportunity to play elsewhere. I can’t blame King for this, and I’m actually surprised he was still a member of the team on opening night. Since joining the Capitals via a trade for Stefan Della Rovere, he has been a kind of afterthought in the organization. Last season, King featured in only 16 games. In those 16 games, he picked up 2 assists and 30 penalty minutes while playing less than 6 minutes a game. In his lone game this season, he recorded one shot and played less than 7 minutes.
When the organization acquired him, they saw him as the tough guy that they lacked. Unfortunately for King, Matt Hendricks’ stellar training camp and preseason made a tough guy—with absolutely no scoring touch—unnecessary. Today, King cleared waivers but is still practicing with the team. My guess is that the team is simply giving him a place to skate while they figure out what to do with him.
About F Street Faithful
Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.