Recharging the Batteries
“I just think we had a real stinker. We stunk in the first period. When you’re getting outshot 18-3 at one point, everybody is playing bad. That’s what it was. You get to know a team after a while. They were lethargic, and the didn’t have any jump from [Alex] Ovechkin to [Donald] Brashear. There was something missing. There was a gear missing and they played very good. They made us look pretty bad.”
Those were the words of Caps coach Bruce Boudreau after Wednesday’s 5-0 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago. A day after that loss, Boudreau gave his troops the day off in Atlanta. Short meetings were held at the hotel here, but no players skated. Lots of coaches would have insisted on practice, and plenty would have skated the boys hard. But Boudreau has led the Caps to a 30-17-7 record in his 54 games behind the bench. He felt that a day of recharging the batteries at this stage was more important and more beneficial to the cause than running them ragged after two days of travel and games heading into a third game in four nights.
He won’t get second-guessed here.
The Caps are looking to forget the Chicago game and move on, and I’m all for that. Someone (on my Facebook wall) wondered about why Boudreau did not pull Olie Kolzig on Wednesday. It’s a valid question, and it’s one that Tarik asked after the game in Chicago. It’s one for which Boudreau had a valid (in my opinion, anyway) answer for, and I’ll share that with you here, where more people are likely to see it. Tarik used some of the quote in his game story, but space doesn’t always permit him to use it all. Here it is:
“I was talking to Cristobal [Huet] in between periods. It’s all on feel. If I had pulled him, was it going to benefit the team? Was it going to get Olie to fight through? I thought quite frankly that he didn’t deserve in front of 21,000 people to be pulled. Because they were leaving him out to dry.
“The first goal was a tip over the shoulder rather than a tip down. The second one, arguably a whistle should have been blown on the thing. Even though it was loose, I’m sure the referee didn’t see it. And our defensemen didn’t block anybody out. The third was a really good shot and the fourth was an open net.
“I thought about it, but I just didn’t feel that this was a warranted situation or it this was a situation where it was going to pump up the team by putting Cris in and I thought Cris was tired and he needed a day off. All those things went through my head.”
And with that, we’ll leave any further unnecessary rehashing of the Chicago game to others.
Seven games remain, four on the road and three at home. The Caps could win all seven and still miss the playoffs, or they could win a few — or more than a few — and get in. The possibilities are endless and no one knows what magic number of points will be required to finish in the top eight.
Now we’ll see how the Caps respond to adversity. If it’s anything like how they’ve responded to adversity up to this point in the season, they’ll win here on Friday.