Caps claim fourth win in five games, beat Canadiens, 3-0
The transition for the Washington Capitals these past few weeks hasn't always been easy as they've tried to add a more defensive mindset to their arsenal, but lately, the dedication to finding more balance in their game has paid off.
Against Montreal Tuesday night, the Capitals demonstrated a composure to take care of their own end and minimize any odd-man chances by the Canadiens, regardless of how the scoreboard read or the given situation, from power plays to penalty kills. While Montreal finished with 25 shots on goal, they didn't have many quality scoring chances as the Capitals earned a 3-0 victory for their fourth win in five games.
"When you change things, if they don't work, you're in trouble," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I thought everybody played really hard and they were committed to what they were doing. It's a new way for us to play but I think we're liking it."
Said Mike Green, when asked about the Capitals' poise: "I think that's something we've been working on over the course of the season. It's an important adjustment for us. We didn't know how to balance both offense and defense, and we're starting to get it and understand it now, and you can see that patience in our game. We're not as aggressive at certain times; we're playing smart. It's about playing consistent throughout the course of the year and the playoffs."
It's not often that you hear the word "trap" tossed around the Capitals dressing room in a positive light, but there were times against Montreal where Washington employed precisely that device to minimize the Canadiens' chances. Not to mention a consistent dose of dump-and-chase hockey that the whole team bought into for the duration of the contest.
"We definitely played the way we wanted to play," Eric Fehr said. "We trapped a little bit in the neutral zone, kept them from getting speed with their quick forwards and I think we all did a great job. Often when we give up opportunities it's just us making mistakes, so we tried to make sure we were getting pucks deep and playing simple hockey. That's what's going to win us games right now."
Some other notes and quotes from the win over the Canadiens:
--The only glaring hiccup from this victory was Washington's 0-for-7 mark on the power play. The Capitals took 15 shots with the man advantage, a fair share of which were quality chances but simply couldn't connect. While getting the chances is certainly a welcome development, it's not the desired result.
"They're struggling," Boudreau said. "Even though we're not scoring goals, we must have had seven or eight really good chances. I can take some solace from that, but I think the boys would like to have some results from that as well."
--It was a pretty goal by Jay Beagle to put the Capitals up 1-0 at the 16:20 mark of the first period and I'll have more on the forward's progress with Washington tomorrow. Boudreau did say that it's hard to not like what he's seeing from the 25-year old.
"There's a guy that's making a great bid to stay here," Boudreau said. "It's his fourth year pro and his work ethic is second to none. You keep saying: 'OK, is it going to slow down? Is it because of initial stuff, like is the adrenaline going to wear down? But it doesn't and he keeps going."
Said Beagle: "I'm trying to [make an impact]. I'm working hard. When you work hard, good things are going to happen. It's fun playing with Chimmer and Fehrsie. They make it easy."
--Jeff Schultz played 13:16 in his first game since Dec. 6 after missing the past nine contests with a fractured right thumb. Boudreau acknowledged that he didn't use the rangy defenseman as much as he ordinarily would, and that Schultz was playing on the right side (as opposed to his usual left) with John Erskine, but said he believed it worked out well.
--Late Tuesday night, NHL senior vice president of international Ken Yaffe said that the Capitals are among the teams being considered for the 2011-12 season-opening NHL Premiere in Europe. Plans are preliminary but there is a chance Washington could start next year overseas. You can check out the full post here.
| December 28, 2010; 11:00 PM ET
Categories: Bruce Boudreau, Jay Beagle, Mike Green, Montreal Canadiens
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