Boudreau and the boys head into Thursday's game coming off a loss, Tuesday, to the Calgary Flames. The Caps are 3-2-1, tied for first in the Southeast Division with Carolina (7 pts.), heading into Thursday's game against Gretzky and the Coyotes. The Capitals desperately need to right the ship, to avoid losing three in a row for the first time in regular season play under Boudreau. Phoenix also looks to bounce back after losing their last three games by three goals each time.
Against Calgary on Tuesday night the Capitals received a strong effort from goalie Jose Theodore. Theodore stopped 26 of 28 shots and was named the third star of the game. It was his best effort so far, as a Capital. Boudreau and the Caps hope the effort from Theodore on Tuesday night is a sign of things to come. Theodore, a former Hart Trophy winner, clearly has the ability to perform well. He proved that last year with strong playoff run for Colorado. The next few games will be important for him to establish himself, in Washington, as the clear #1 goalie.
The Capital's special teams remain in disarray. Against Calgary on Tuesday the Caps took too many penalties, (10), and allowed a goal. A bit better, as they have hovered around 70% on the PK so far early on this season. They now sit at 75% on the PK, lower than the 80% efficiency they ran at last season. The power-play, however, remains in shambles. The Capitals went 0-5 on the PP on Tuesday night. Early on, with a 1-0 lead, the Caps got a real break when Rene Bourque took offense to hit Tyler Sloan delivered on Daymond Langkow and received 19 minutes in penalties. The Caps came out of the confrontation with a 9 minute power-play opportunity and a chance to put the game away early and couldn't convert. Boudreau said afterward that they are, "...trying to be too damn cute." After practicing this afternoon Boudreau will inevitably shake things up on the power-play and hopefully it can get back on track against Phoenix, who operates on the PK at 85%. It seems like the Caps are not only trying to be too cute, but are also holding onto the puck too long and not moving it around to get the goalie moving. The screens have also been something Boudreau apparently worked on today, especially with Chris Clark.
Thomas Fleishman and Alexander Semin continue to impress early on. Semin leads the team in goals (6) and assits (4), although he was kept off the score sheet for the first time this season on Tuesday. Fleishman has looked stronger, faster, and smarter early on, in his second full season as a Cap, he has a goal and two assists. Ovechkin continues to struggle early on as he draws the oppositions best "D" pair each night. It is just a matter of time, before you know he is gonna break out and have one of those special nights. After all it was in Phoenix where he recorded one of the most miraculous goals the NHL has ever seen.
( see the link: <a href="http://www.youtube.com/wa...h?v=O8t_aZy0ouQ</a>
Mike Green and the injury depleted defense corps (Pothier: post concussion syndrome, Poti: groin, Erskine: leg (probable)) look to contain Olli Jokinen, Shane Doan, and rookie phenom Kyle Turris of the Coyotes. Doan leads the team in goals (4), while Jokinen leads in points (6). The big question for the Caps defense corps is will Boudreau put Sergei Federov back on D or keep him on the top line with Ovechkin. Something tells me that if Erskine can't go then we are likely to see Federov on D. We should get a report tomorrow as to how the lines will look and I will try and post them.
The game is a 10pm eastern time start on CSN-DC (HD).