When Bruce Boudreau told reporters yesterday that he was still mad about the team's third period performance Wednesday in New Jersey, I was somewhat hopefully, but not necessarily expecting all that much. After all, Boudreau had made his displeasure and frustration clear a number of times this season and his team seemed to keep coming out with inconsistent efforts. But whatever was said, either by Boudreau or someone else in that locker room, appears to have made an impact for the time being at least, as the Caps came out with back-to-back efforts like the ones they've thus far far been reserving for the likes of Philadelphia, San Jose, and Boston.
That effort made the crucial difference not only in last night's game, a closely contested affair, but in tonight's game, where the Capitals, in large part due to the compete level the team had demonstrated over the course of the home-and-home, dominated an exhausted Florida squad. Not only did it lead the team to victory, but it was also a welcome change from a team that had all too often been finding itself outscored in the final frame, and offers fans hopes the team's problems are only temporary.
Ten additional thoughts on last night's game:
- Starting a goalie on back-to-back nights is something you generally only see reserved for Roberto Luongo/Martin Brodeur/Miikka Kiprusoff types, not guys in a platoon system, and tonight showed why. Jose Theodore looked a little slow and his rebound control was off, to say the least.
- The sign of a great player is the ability to make teammates better, and so far Mathieu Perreault's done just that. Chris Clark, Eric Fehr, and (the winger version of) Tyler Sloan have all looked like different players with Perreault.
Quintin Laing had a very Quintin Laing-like game, with four hits and two blocked shots. Oh, and according to @cmasisak22 (via Brooks Laich), "...Quintin Laing blocked a shot with his ribs in the 1st, broke his nose in the 2nd and scored in the 3rd." All in a day's work, right Q?
- Speaking of Laing and Perreault - more surprising, a goal from 53 or a goal from 85?
- That was a physical game, to be sure, but sixty-four credited hits? Someone down at the Verizon Center has an itchy trigger finger. Still, it is nice to look at the game's Event Summary as see at least one hit credited to sixteen of the team's eighteen skaters (neither Perreault nor Brendan Morrison were credited with one).
- Alexander Semin now has eight minor penalties on the season. Six of them have come in the offensive zone.
- Yesterday I was ready to declare Tyler Sloan a better NHL forward than Quintin Laing. Tonight I'm ready to declare him a better NHL forward than NHL defenseman.
- Somehow Milan Jurcina wound up a minus-4 on the night. Yikes.
- Mike Knuble now has five goals on the season, scored from a total of approximately sixteen feet from the net.
- Thirteen of the eighteen skaters who dressed for the Capitals had at least one point, and four had at least two. That's primary, secondary, and tertiary scoring (and how you get to seven goals).
On a final note, we'd like to offer congratulations to Mathieu Perreault on his first NHL goal. For a guy who's been undersized his whole life, never complained, and has worked his tail off to get to this level, it's a fitting reward. Enjoy it kid. You're earned it.