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Posted at 9:04 AM ET, 02/ 5/2011

Capitals show a killer instinct against Tampa Bay

By Katie Carrera

Throughout the season, as the Capitals have let games slip away for one reason or another, the idea of a 'killer instinct' has come up. Friday night against Tampa Bay the Capitals had that unwaivering ability to wrap a game up.

When the Lightning pressed in an attempt to take control of the game after Washington established a two-goal lead, the Capitals didn't panic. When the Lightning scored with 40.1 seconds remaining in the second period -- a textbook example of something that could shift the game in Tampa Bay's favor -- the Capitals came out just as resolved to stick to their plan in the third as they did in the first two periods.

"We got that goal scored against us at the end of the second and we came in the room and said that's not going to slow us down," Matt Bradley said. "Bruce and the coaches had a great system. We even got their fans frustrated with the way we were playing," Bradley said. "I thought we really stuck with it and that's what definitely helped us toward the end when they were pushing."

The challenge of being committed enough to out-wit Tampa Bay is one thing but the Capitals kept to the plan and finished the Lightning off. It hasn't been too often, especially against teams currently in playoff position, that the Capitals have been able to say that they shut the door on an opponent and were firmly in control for a victory.

Now it's up to Washington to see if it can find that steady level of follow-through each night, regardless if the team has two practice days to install a specific plan geared to a singular foe.

"They were committed to doing things [Friday]. It wasn't half-[hearted] it was total commitment and we did it," Boudreau said. "I thought we bounced back. I thought we held on. Usually when a team scores that second goal that goal at the end of the second period in the last minute they have a ton of energy and I thought we took it away from them early in the third and I thought we played pretty solid."

By Katie Carrera  | February 5, 2011; 9:04 AM ET
Categories:  Bruce Boudreau, Tampa Bay Lightning  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Capitals at Lightning
Next: Boudreau expects Semin to return next week

Comments

First?

Do it again on Sunday.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | February 5, 2011 9:18 AM | Report abuse

new powerplay! OV shooting from his circle! knubs making a scene in the crease!

Posted by: mcintire_will | February 5, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

previous thread:

Also...notice that when Backstrom finally has a good offensive game, it creates a lot more space for Ovie to work...I love Backstrom and appreciate his defensive abilities, but when he is offensively week it allows teams to put too much focus on Ovie.

think how it would affect Stamkos if st. louis was in the slump Backie was.

Posted by: capscoach

Posted by: capscoach | February 5, 2011 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday I made a post in which I chastised Backstrom for his poor play in the 2nd period of the Montreal game. Today I am here to praise him for his fine effort in the Tampa Bay game. See, it does go both ways.

Also I questioned if Backstrom was all talk. I take that back. He is more than just talk. He walked the walk.

Last night he did the things he wasn't doing in the Montreal game. He had excellent puck support, he supported his teammates, and he skated instead of just standing around.

Kudos to Backstrom I hope he keeps it up.

-BetterOffWithFedorov

(I'm using my home screen name today)

Posted by: WVCapsFan | February 5, 2011 9:35 AM | Report abuse

While I'm eating crow, I might as well eat some more.

In that past I've complained about BB's inability to adjust and called for his firing during the losing streak. I like the adjustments he made in last night's game. The long dumps and the d to d passing and being patient through the nuetral zone was an excellent plan. Great job BB, keep it up.

-BetterOfWithFedorov

Posted by: WVCapsFan | February 5, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse

One of the biggest differece in last night's game compared to the previous two against the Bolts besides Hendricks running at Roloson was Ovi's hits against Ohlund who has been one man-wrecking crew against the Caps this season.

Now was the Backstrom's fault that Ovi stopped hitting like he used to???

Posted by: joek443 | February 5, 2011 10:08 AM | Report abuse

One of the biggest differences in last night's game compared to the previous two against the Bolts besides Hendricks running at Roloson was Ovi's hits against Ohlund who has been one man-wrecking crew against the Caps this season.

Now was it Backstrom's fault that Ovi stopped hitting like he used to???

Posted by: joek443 | February 5, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Congrats to the Caps!

60 minutes of solid hockey.

Now do it on a consistent basis - game in and game out - through the season and the playoffs.

Posted by: puckman | February 5, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Just checking to see if I'm in the penalty box still....my posts have been clean, yet being held for approval

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 5, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

What do you think the Bolts (or other teams that play the trap for that matter) will do against the 4 corner offense and defensive patience? I guess they could send in one guy to pressure the D, but then they open up a little much in the neutral zone which is exactly what the Caps would want. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out.

Glad to see BB showing adaptation and strategy last night. It couldn't have come at a better time. Hopefully it's our ticket to earning enough points to make the playoffs.

Posted by: LloydChristmas | February 5, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Ovie never stopped hitting...look at the stats...maybe a slight decrease, but you can't deny the fact that if Backtstrom is being a threat it takes some of the pressure off ovie...did u not see Ovie lay out Subban in probably the best hit of the season last week?

When Backie isn't scoring other teams focus all their attention on Ovie...Like I said...as good as Stamkos is, he wouldn't have the numbers he does now without Martin St. Louis.

Posted by: capscoach | February 5, 2011 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Overall, I was pleased with many aspects of the Caps' play last night: more grit, more consistency throughout, success on the power play, etc.

But the "pattycake" in our own zone to rag time off the clock was making me absolutely crazy!!!!

"C'mon guys!!" I found myself shouting over and over again at my TV,

"attack! Attack!! ATTACK!!! If you don't keep attacking all it will take is one mistake and we're headed for overtime again! What the @#^%$^ are you thinking, Bruce?!?!?"

But they didn't make a mistake...

And Varly came up huge...

And the penalties we took did not feel like the harbingers of doom that they had in so many games past (even though TB did score one PPG)...

And everybody crashed the net...

And Roloson was merely mortal after Hendricks disrupted his kitchen, then stood tall when Clownie tried to punish him for it...

And St. Louis was stopped (and Vinny and Stamkos too)...

And Brads held his own against a bigger opponent...with no blood!!

And Ovie taught Ohlund applied lessons about Newton's Laws of Motion...

And Bäckis scored...

And Le Brooksi scored with equal parts of grace and grit...

And Ovie got time and space...and used them!

And Bäckis scored again!!


And somehow...somehow...the crazy plan worked, so who am I to criticize it in the light of those results? Sure, it might not have worked against a better forecheck, but the point is that--because it fit the opponent--it did work.

How about that?

So, yeah, I know it's only one game, and we have the hated Penguins on Sunday, and it's not going to get any easier, but maybe...just maybe we have a better coach than some give him credit for.

Overweight? Definitely. Hammy? I'll give you that, too. But stupid or incompetent? I really don't think so.

Great plan coach!
Great game Caps!
That was enjoyable...thanks!

Time to get ready for Pittsburgh, and claw our way back to where we should be, bit by bit...

One more thing: Ovie could have easily potted the empty-netter but dished to Chimera instead. Was this the act of a man who is only about himself? Methinks not.


Posted by: Rhino40 | February 5, 2011 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Ovi has 3 PP goals this year all away from home. He's the making close to $10M/year. He's the one supposed to make everyone around him better, NOT the other way around.

Neither Backs NOR Ovi are having a good year but to pin all that on Backs is simply asinine.

Posted by: joek443 | February 5, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Ovi has 3 PP goals this year all away from home. He's the making close to $10M/year. He's the one supposed to make everyone around him better, NOT the other way around.

Neither Backs NOR Ovi are having a good year but to pin all that on Backs is simply asinine.

Posted by: joek443

I am by no means pinning it all on Ovie...when he was floating around the top of the crease it drove me CRAZY! but Backis is making close to 7...so he has some responsibility to make those around him better 2.

I don't care if you are the new Gretzky...if a player has no help on the ice, there is not a lot he can do. When 3 players are surrounding Ovie...backstrom has to score...and he wasn't.

As for the PP...well the point was never a great spot for him...so thats on BB...and the whole team was sucking on that...no one was moving their feet or going towards the net...and they do like the pretty passes too much.

Backstrom is one of my favorite players...but to blame it all on Ovie is simply asinine :)

Posted by: capscoach | February 5, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

Rhino,

At first I was frustrated too, but then I realized the brilliance. They were making them make the first move to open up the space for us to attack. Something we can only do early in the game or with the lead, but that was a briliant move that really opened things up for us.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | February 5, 2011 10:37 AM | Report abuse

just to note...all the doom and gloom folks that have been killing this blog the last 3 days, are not here with anything good to say... They arent even Caps fans...

If they come back, just insult their mother as every response to their post until they go away...

Posted by: SA-Town | February 5, 2011 10:38 AM | Report abuse

I meant backstrom in that first sentence :)

Posted by: capscoach | February 5, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Moving onward, Crosby still apparently out and Malkin doubtful for tomorrow's game.

What's the over/under on how many times they will be mentioned by the NBC team of db's even though neither is on the ice or on the bench?

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 5, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Rhino-

I say 12/20

Posted by: capscoach | February 5, 2011 10:43 AM | Report abuse

@rhino40....As a hockey fan I wish they both were playing...the other issue is this..if the Caps win, any Penguins fan will say it doesnt count since Shrek and Stiff Sid arent on the ice. Now if they win...all hell will break lose...when was the last time the Penguins beat the Caps not in a shootout?

Posted by: SA-Town | February 5, 2011 10:46 AM | Report abuse

@capscoach:

LWYNAY...sounds about right!

Posted by: Rhino40 | February 5, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

I don't care if you are the new Gretzky...if a player has no help on the ice, there is not a lot he can do. When 3 players are surrounding Ovie...backstrom has to score...and he wasn't.
----------------------------------

Gretzky didn't always play with Kurri and he DID had 3 guys surrounding him every time he had the puck. That's what happens when you score 92, 71, 87 and 73 goals in a 4-year span.

Posted by: joek443 | February 5, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Ohlund hounded Ovi in the two shutout losses and Ovi NEVER bothered to challenge him.

He wears the C on his jersey, doesn't he? Last night he did go after Ohlund and he wasn't quite the one man wrecking crew that he was in those shutouts.

Posted by: joek443 | February 5, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

ChiBaChkin!!!

Posted by: mozartbooks | February 5, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

By the way, what would all you Caps whiners have to say if that all-star Stamkos was on your team last night? Did you notice that he had just one shot and was a minus 3?

What's wrong with the TB coach? Shouldn't he be fired for not adjusting to a game plan put together by a better coach?

Fact is that we whipped 'em good. And BB should and will stay.

Posted by: hanks1 | February 5, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

If the Caps win, any Penguins fan will say it doesnt count since Shrek and Stiff Sid arent on the ice. Now if the [Pens] win...all hell will break lose.

Posted by: SA-Town

I agree. Pretty much a no-win situation for the Caps on Sunday.

If the Caps win, it's meaningless.

If the Caps lose it shows that the Pens are leaps and bounds ahead of the Caps(or at least that's what the analysts and poster on here will say).

Posted by: sgm3 | February 5, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

For any interested Kuznetsov was the youngest member ever of the KHL all star game today and he had a goal (EN) and 3 assists in the game. Former Cap Federov had 2 goals and Chris Simon had a goal and an assist.

Posted by: icehammer97 | February 5, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

THe Caps, especially Ovechkin and Backstrom, were starting to show signs of coming out of the offensive slump before the break, creating more opportunities. It's just one game but the pattern is clear that the team is starting to regain some offensive form, which should pick up when Semin returns. There is too much skil and talent on this team to be dormant all season.

On the other side, Tampa Bay may have already peaked (like the Caps did last year). This will be a close race for the Division to the end.

Posted by: haunches | February 5, 2011 11:11 AM | Report abuse

It appears that Cindy Crysby is going to miss a few more days. The pain from her Brazilian Waxing is still preventing her from playing.

Welcome back Vermontcaps, I guess Erskine & DJK are considered bad words here.

I was laughing my butt off watching the dump in from our blue line & the "4-corners" rag. It was great. Anytime the visitors get the crowd booing, your doing it right. I've been blasting BB this year but, that was good coaching (I still want a new coach).

Posted by: chriscaps | February 5, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

I had zero confidence the team would play well going into the game. It's just one game, but the longest journey begins with a single step, right? They finally looked like the Caps last night.

Posted by: zmega | February 5, 2011 11:19 AM | Report abuse

A no win situation for the Caps, so let's go out and win the game to get the 2 points we need anyway. Who cares what the Pens fans say. We need all the points we can get. We will deal with the Pens fans in the playoffs.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | February 5, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

It was nice to see the energy, agitator guys cause commotion and get the other team off their game. Hendricks and Brads with their fights and Knubs being a royal pain in the A-- in the crease on O.V.'s goal. However, I think the caps need to get out of the MP and Boyd Gordon business. I would add steckel too except, I think he is still leading the league in face-off percentage. If he is just around for d-zone draws on PK and late leads, I could get behind that plan. 55 was useless last night and looked like his old self. he let vinny and the boys have any real estate they wanted in the crease. I know it's just not his style, blah, blah, blah, but that's what the caps need to pair with green. A physical presence who can complement Green. Hannon didn't work out. If only there was some guy that fit the bill(shaone morrisonn?)

I would like to see GMGM trade 55, MP and B. Gordon for a power forward(young avery or cooke type speed, some skill and a pain to play against) and an Erskine type d-man(plays pissed and will protect the house) with a little better wheels to pair with Greeen.

1 game has not changed my mind but I am willing too, if we keep seeing team specific game plans, effort and team play.

Posted by: cadlecreek1 | February 5, 2011 11:32 AM | Report abuse

As a Caps fan you have to be impressed with the mindset and dedication Orlov has to play in North America.

http://sportshaze.com/russia/khl/dmitri-orlov-can-continue-the-season-in-north-america-936

Posted by: sgm3 | February 5, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I was one of the Caps whiners a few days ago with my macro look commentary. Against TB, the Caps did most of things I said they either weren't or couldn't. Go caps! But one game maketh not a season, but it doth maketh one to watch again. And, if it keepeth up, perhaps buyeth some more tickets to the games. GMGM, I'll still trade my grandmother with the rolling pin..nobody checks her in the neutral zone (excepting maybe TSA)!

Posted by: Jrlobo | February 5, 2011 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Caps played 2 good, complete games in the last month -- against the Pens and against the Bolts. In between, they have played up and down hockey, with a few stinkers in there. Well, they also played the Leafs well, but it's the Leafs in 2011, not 1967, so take that for what it is worth. I would like to see more consistency of effort for this team. If motivated, the Caps have enough talent to win now, but come the playoffs, they need2 things: a true playoff calibre 2C and a rugged, S@H blueliner. To get these last two, offer up some players for trade:
Semin, Neuvy, Beagle, either Gordon, MP, ChimChim, Steckel, Poti, and Schultz. Don't trade them all, but if u can get a solid blueliner for Schultz and Poti, cya
If u can get a very good 2 way 2c for Semin, Neuvy, or a few of the rookies, make it happen.
I would like to see Fehr and Semin with a legit 2 way center, but given how injury prone those two are and not exactly playoff phenoms, they are not crucial for playoff success
A solid veteran RW could also be very beneficial -- Billy Geurin may not have made the Flyers final cut, but he is better than any RW the Caps have now, save Knubs

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 5, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Caps played 2 good, complete games in the last month -- against the Pens and against the Bolts. In between, they have played up and down hockey, with a few stinkers in there. Well, they also played the Leafs well, but it's the Leafs in 2011, not 1967, so take that for what it is worth. I would like to see more consistency of effort for this team. If motivated, the Caps have enough talent to win now, but come the playoffs, they need2 things: a true playoff calibre 2C and a rugged, S@H blueliner. To get these last two, offer up some players for trade:
Semin, Neuvy, Beagle, either Gordon, MP, ChimChim, Steckel, Poti, and Schultz. Don't trade them all, but if u can get a solid blueliner for Schultz and Poti, cya
If u can get a very good 2 way 2c for Semin, Neuvy, or a few of the rookies, make it happen.
I would like to see Fehr and Semin with a legit 2 way center, but given how injury prone those two are and not exactly playoff phenoms, they are not crucial for playoff success
A solid veteran RW could also be very beneficial -- Billy Geurin may not have made the Flyers final cut, but he is better than any RW the Caps have now, save Knubs

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | February 5, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

The Bears are making a move up the AHL standings recently. The addition of Orlov and Eakin could be a real help. Kuznetsov would be nice too, but that sounds less likely. And it sounds like Souray has been playing well. Who's to say they couldn't challenge for a third straight championship?

Posted by: zmega | February 5, 2011 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Did people see this quote by Guy Boucher?

"We weren't scared of them. There was no fear, and that's a lack of respect for an opponent."

If you combine that with the Caps being voted the most overrated team, maybe this has been the Caps secret plan all along.

Get teams to not respect and overlook you and then at game time put it on like Donkey Kong and surprise them.

Brilliant!

Posted by: sgm3 | February 5, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I've been critical of the caps throughout the season, especially recently. Most of my criticism has been directly focused on BB.

Thoughts on last night:
- BB out-coached /out-strategized boucher. The caps' icing attack was well executed and seemed to catch tb off guard.
- great to see ovi at half boards on pp. His goal last night would not have gone in from further back... From the point. His position on ice made for a higher probability shot, and honestly what goalie can save that shot from there?
- another advantage of ovi on half boards is Carlson on point, which just feels and will be safer... When semin returns he might have to be second unit because ova plus backs should have a grinder with them on pp

So yeah, I've been critical but today I will admit I saw a lot of things from my wish list did in fact happen

Posted by: PSD1 | February 5, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

As a Caps whiner several days ago also, last nights game was terrific. However, one game does NOT make a season.

Let's see what happens over the next 29 games before we crown these Caps and BB.

I still feel BB must go and several of these SOFT players and more grit added to the team and a good 2C.

Go Caps! Keep it up and don't let us down after one game.

Posted by: JMinVA | February 5, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Great game. We didn't wilt!

3 Things happened IMHO.

- Stars played like stars.
- Plenty of grit. Great to have Brads back. Hendricks is the MVP of this team so far this year.
- Well executed, well designed systems in place to counteract the other team's style of play.

If this continues, and Varly makes a few key stops, we're no longer a good hockey team, but bordering on a great one.

Posted by: Jordan_Kitts | February 5, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

IMO if the Caps make a trade deadline move, it will be right before the deadline & the Caps will only make 1 move (a center).
I just don't see any legitimate 2Cs who would be available yet. Arnott was a 2C earlier in his career, not now. Fisher has 2 yrs left @4.2m, not a very good "rental".
Umberger with 1 yr, 3.75m cap hit may become a good choice if the Jackets drop a little further. It depends on the cost.

Posted by: chriscaps | February 5, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Most important outcome from last night, now the boys know what it takes to play dominating successful hockey.

One game does not make a season, but one game can turn around the season purely through education.

Playing good golf is all about muscle memory. Now they have the hockey memory back.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | February 5, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

One follow up to my post. I know they knew how to play dominating hockey before because they had done it before, but sometimes when it has been a while, you "forget" the feeling.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | February 5, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

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