Hanlon Back in the Game; Caps Back to Business
Good to see that former Caps bench boss Glen Hanlon will be back behind a bench soon. Glen has a good hockey mind and more importantly, he is a good man. I wish him the best success in Jokerit next season and beyond.
Here in South Florida, the Caps are preparing to take the ice for their morning skate. The players have just arrived and the bus returned to the hotel to pick up their dads. After yesterday’s practice here, most of the players and some of the dads sat poolside and enjoyed the great weather we’ve been having here. The players and dads enjoyed a team dinner together last night, and today it’s back to business.
Carolina won last night, so the Caps have fallen two points off the pace in the Southeast race. Washington is 0-2-1 in its last three games within he division, and is 9-9-2 against Southeast Division foes. Since the yearlong lockout that killed the 2004-05 season, no team with a losing record within its own division has made the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Caps climbed back into the race by playing well against the rest of the league, and they will play mostly non-divisional games for about a month after tomorrow’s visit to Tampa Bay. They may need to use that stretch to create some separation in the standings, because the last three weeks of the season figures to be a classic dogfight, with all five Southeast teams playing exclusively against one another.
“If there are 11 divisional games [remaining] on average of all the teams in our division, somebody is getting points, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau told me yesterday. “If you’re tied or behind, when you don’t play you’re losing ground. When you do play, you’ve got to make it count.
“Our guys have done a great job at being pretty consistent in our efforts. But we’ve still got 24 games, and I assume they’ll all be like that.”
Tom Poti won’t play tonight. I’ll let you know of any other lineup adjustments when I learn of them.