Jerky Boy

For me, Sundays always start with a look at The Boston Globe to see if I’m fortunate enough to have a Kevin Paul Dupont piece to read. Dupont wrote today, and that’s always a good thing. Not only is he the pre-eminent North American hockey writer as far as I’m concerned, but he loves the game and is always willing to seek and tweak when it comes to making the game better. I don’t always agree with him, but I like the way he thinks. Today’s Dupont piece is a perfect example. We see eye-to-eye on the issue of fighting in the game, but I’m not quite on board with a radical baseball-style roster departure. Good reading nonetheless.

And for forlorn and season-weary Caps fans, this absolute jewel was tucked a bit deeper into the piece:

Jurcina has been a plus for Capitals
Last Sunday in D.C., the lowly Capitals slapped a 7-1 loss on the lofty Lightning, a thumping that left Bolts star Vincent Lecavalier without a point and a minus-2 for his 22:17 of ice time.

“Vinny came away from that one talking about how impressed he was with [Milan] Jurcina,” said a veteran scout with close ties to Tampa’s franchise center. “I guess Jurcina was out there every time Vinny was, and he said he’s one of the toughest defensemen he’s had to play against.”

Shades of Hal Gill taking on Jaromir Jagr, isn’t it?

Jurcina, whom the Bruins dished to the Capitals for a fourth-round pick Feb. 1, had one assist and was an impressive plus-4 in 22:54. Since departing the Hub of Hockey, the behemoth Jurcina routinely logs in excess of 20 minutes of ice time per game.

During the Mar. 1 Caps-Bolts game at Verizon, it was apparent that Jurcina (who answers to the nickname “Jerky”) and Shaone Morrisonn were both doing an efffective job of getting under Lecavalier’s skin. I made mention of it to someone during the game, and specifically sought out Jurcina to ask him about it afterwards.

If the Caps are going to be seeing Lecavalier and Co. eight times a season, color me glad that the Caps have #23 and #26. When that defensive duo combined with its Caps teammates to keep Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Brad Richards and Dan Boyle from collecting as much as a point in last Sunday’s 7-1 Washington win over Tampa Bay, it marked only the sixth time this season that all four players were held off the scoresheet in the same contest.

Defense has been a huge issue for the Caps for a few seasons now (how’s that for incisive analysis?), and the late-season emergence of Jurcina and Morrisonn as a legitimate shutdown tandem is one of the bright spots in what has been a very difficult second half of the season.

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