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Posted at 11:00 PM ET, 12/28/2010

Caps claim fourth win in five games, beat Canadiens, 3-0

By Katie Carrera

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.

By Katie Carrera  | December 28, 2010; 11:00 PM ET
Categories:  Bruce Boudreau, Jay Beagle, Mike Green, Montreal Canadiens  
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Next: Capitals deliver early-season salvo against Montreal

Comments

I hate to see guys like Subban stand over a fallen winger like Chimera with that fake "tough guy" look on his face.
------------------------------------

He wouldn't have been in the lineup had Gorges been able to play so I would say the Caps would take that swap any time since Gorges was the best player on the ice not named Halak in the playoffs.

Posted by: joek443 | December 28, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Good win for you Caps. I'll admit the Habs are sucking major *** now.

Posted by: slurpeesarecool | December 29, 2010 12:30 AM | Report abuse

Just got back from Death Valley trip to watch both games on DVR.

1) Felt terrible watching MP get hurt. I say Gleason deserved a penalty despite the whining pleas from the Canes announcers.

2) Green has been diving so much to block shots he should have a nuclear sub neamed after him.

3) Gotta love the commitment to clog the slot and block shots playing Martin's game back on him.

4) There are some great hikes in DVNP.

5) I'm been saying all summer and fall that "What does Chimera bring?" Well, what? He reminds me of the Holy Roman Empire that they taught us in school was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire; meanwhile Chimmy plays neither offense, defense nor grit well enough for either 2nd, 3rd or 4th line. Yes, Beagle has been great, but move Chimera as many have posted and AGordon can do the same things at 1/3rd the price.

Yes, KMart shoppers, at ONE-THIRD the price.

So, sorry to upstage you Jonathan6, but after watching BOTH games DVR, I have to say:

ICE BREAKERS, GOAL SHAKERS, TRAIL MAKERS and I'M HURT FAKERS (Subban)...IT'S BEEN A FOUR-POINT NIGHT!

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 29, 2010 12:42 AM | Report abuse

What i feel our PP lacks is another lefty, preferably to man one of the points.

When we play with Ovi, Green, Semin, Knuble and Backstrom it's so easy for them to cut us off to our left side and then only focus on shotblocking.
Laich is also in the mix of course, but with a lefty on the rightpoint we can move Green to the left, bump Ovi the the halfboard, Move Semin to the 2nd unit with Carlson, Laich, Fehr/Hendricks, MP/MJ.. maybe even Poti

Ovi has a too big of a hook on his blade to be able to easily hold on to those bouncing pucks on the blueline, which causes us to start over in our zone on too many occasions, bums me out!

Maybe trading Semin+? could give us Suter+?, J.Johnson+?, or R.Whitney+?

How about Semin (6.0) + Poti (3.5 or 2.875) for Whitney (4.0) + Gagner (2.275), is it likely to happen? would you do it?

Posted by: Walle | December 29, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

What does Chimera bring? He brings speed. There are at least two or three times each game where he is behind a defender on an icing and beats him to the puck to cancel the icing. Also see tonight's second goal. He made PK miss and got the puck into the zone then used his speed going to the net created space for Backstrom to pass and drew attention away from Green so he could score. It doesn't end up on the scoresheet but it was as important as any player on that goal. Also go back and watch his goal against NJ. He got that goal by just using his speed to create an oppertunity that would not have been there if it was someone slower.

He also adds experience. We have too many young players as it is. We need to have some vets on the team, it would be better if we had someone who had won a Cup by he is what we got. So not only would getting rid of his slow our team down but it would also take away our leadership.

Posted by: icehammer97 | December 29, 2010 2:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm with @icehammer on Chimera, @tominsocal. Chimera's speed wins us pucks multiple times each game, and he brings some determination and grit to the ice. I thought he was a key part of the third line last night with Fehr and Beagle, a line that controlled the puck all night. He's had some beautiful feeds, though he doesn't always play on lines where guys put it away. His goal 3 games ago was a powerful display of speed and determination. I like Chimera just fine.

AGordon, on the other hand, hasn't done much if you ask me. It's just fine he's on his way to Hershey.

Posted by: Justafan | December 29, 2010 6:06 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who does not appreciate what Chimera brings to the Caps clearly doesn't either a) watch hockey or b) understand hockey. Let's review. Chimera is one of the few on the Caps either last year or even this year, who is willing to scrap in the corners and do puck retrieval. Yeah that phrase they throw out on the TV if you listen to commentary? Ring a bell? Also, he's one of the few and you can count them on one hand who are willing to go to the net CONSISTENTLY. You can put down others if you want, but their natural tendency is to shoot from the wings and not do the dirty work in front of the net. And as everyone points out, speed. The man is one of the fastest players in the NHL and I don't need to repeat what has been said in previous posts as to the positives of what that brings to a team. As far as bringing A. Gordon up for, what was that 1/3 cost? Take your fantasy team mentality and go back to NHL '11 on the xbox -- or better yet go work for Dan Snyder. At least he'll be the only one thinks that idea is great.

Posted by: Section411 | December 29, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

I am glad to see most of the Caps buy into a defense first system. This style will help a lot in the playoffs. Two issues that bear discussion: (1) the first line excepting Knubs is not buying in with OV still floating looking for the breakout and Backis just off-kilter, and (2) sustained possession time in the opponent's zone to wear down the defense is not there yet (especially the top line). BB (I'll lay off BigBaby for a bit) has to discipline his best players to buy into his system because 3/4 of the lines playing a system will not work when it matters.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 29, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse

Oh, for the OV haters, OV can play defense. Did you see him back-check against the Pens? He did well there, but against MTL I saw him floating again. Not all the time, but at times. So is OV not paying attention to the system, so tired he cannot play both sides of the ice, or coached to float for the fast break?

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | December 29, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I would like to add my support to Chimera. He played a great game last night on the Beagle line and contributes consistently in many ways that do not always show up in the score sheet but are necessary for a team to be effective and successful.

Posted by: MReilly9 | December 29, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Solid win last night. There must be a lot of angry posters this morning.

Posted by: GFisher1 | December 29, 2010 8:15 AM | Report abuse

I thought the Caps couldn't beat the Habs w/Erskine in the lineup because he was too slow?? Another solid game by #4 with yet another different partner....he's been the glue that's held the backline together!! Can't wait for Poti to heal so he can be banished to the pressbox w/DJK...

Chimera has speed, veteran leadership, and grit? His cowering to Subban (who gloated over hime and gave him a shove for good measure) was embarassing. Chimera should be traded for Neil, Clarkson, Mair, Mayers, etc... if/when possible.

Subban was itching to go all night, starting w/Chimera and constantly yapping at Ovi. As a rookie, someone on our team should've put him in his place LIKE THE PENS DID a few weeks back. Glad to see Erskine put him on his a@@ when he had the opportunity, we'll sure miss that edge with him out of the lineup.

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 29, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

And one more thing: Put Johnny E. on the powerplay!! Camped in the crease w/his stick on the ice, he'd probably break double-digits in goals this year :)

Posted by: vermontcaps | December 29, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

HAs anyone looked at how good our PK is doing? You should look back to how much better it got last year after we traded for Chimera.

Chimera is rough and tough, fast as heck, creates opportunities with his speed, is great at back checking, grinds it out in the corners and is money on the PK. That makes him pretty darn good.

If you are expecting him to be a 40 goal scorer, then you don't understand what his role is. That's ok, because you can't always know everything. Just watch him on the PK or in the corners in the next game. You'll see what he brings.

Posted by: jmurray019 | December 29, 2010 10:20 AM | Report abuse

@tominsocal1

Must admit I've never been a Gleason fan. He's generally given both Semin and Ovechkin a lot of grief. Note: Gleason was the guy who Ovi had "hit" on the knee to get suspended.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | December 29, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Great game last night. Knuble was all over the ice. This was certainly his best game yet. All six D men looked very solid last night, and Hannon, Erskine, and Green played notably well.

Posted by: festus75 | December 29, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Section411: Who stuck a broken hockey stick up your behind and twisted it?

You don't need to come on here and be so GD nasty. Go back to your hole.

jmurray: Does Chimera really bring "money" to the PK? Does he even play the PK much? I'll admit, I didn't check the stats, but I don't seem to recall him out there.

I'll grant you the speed but there's not much toughness for me. 40 goals? No. I'd expect 10 goals/25 pts from $1.875M. He's not a defensive specialist and not a grinder. If I had to pick between him and Bradley, I'd take Bradley. I guess that comes from XBox play or whatever although I must admit I've never seen one of those much less played, nor been in any fantasy league. Some people are just GD nasty is all.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | December 29, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Everyone (except for maybe ovie) played a great game last night and all vermontcaps can still talk about is how Johnny Erskine is the second coming of Stevens. Yes, he's playing some fine hockey right now and it's great to see. Much more interesting to me is how Green and Hannan (along with the kids)have stepped up, they've been playing some great d, very encouraging to see.

Posted by: nikitaov222 | December 29, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

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