The Capitals' win over Florida last night moved them to .500, the same exact winning percentage of the top teams in the Southeast Division. Atlanta, Carolina, and Washington each have a point per game, but only the Caps are moving in the right direction.
Bruce Boudreau puts the Capitals .500 record into perspective -- the way we've come to expect from the coach who seems to know exactly how to get the most from his players: "We've officially reached mediocrity."
Looking back to day one of the season, this is unequivocally true. Looking back, however, to day one of Bruce Boudreau's arrival the Caps have gone 15-7-4, a record that places them among the NHL's elite.
The charge has seen player after player step up along the way -- last night was no exception.
Viktor Kozlov had his first multiple goal performance as a Capital, scoring twice in the opening frame. He had two good chances later on for the hat trick, but the bouncing pucks gave him a bit of trouble.
Assisting on both Kozlov goals, not to mention on scores by Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin, was Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom tied a franchise rookie record set by Rolf Edburg (who???) some 29 years back for most assists in a game. It turns out that Edburg, another Swedish center, played three seasons in the NHL, all for the Capitals. He totalled 45 goals and 58 assists for 103 points in 184 games from 1978-81, when the Caps (77-117-46 record) were near the peak of their lousiness.
Brent Johnson played admirably in place of Olie Kolzig, a decision that many were speculating signalled the end of Olie's starting gig here in Washington. Though the goals Johnny allowed were not really his fault (two deflections and a screen,) he likely did not steal the starting job away from Kolzig. Boudreau specified before the game that he wanted to give Kolzig two starts for every start by Johnson. I doubt we will see a departure from this statement any time soon.
Semin and Ovechkin have both scored in each of the last four games, a very good sign that Semin is fully healed and Ovechkin's new contract has not gone to his head.
Ovie has 11 goals in his last 10 games giving him 36 on the season, one shy of Ilya Kovalchuk's league leading total -- with two games in hand. Ovechkin, who was tied with Jarome Iginla for second as recently as a week ago, has pulled away from the Calgary Flame who sits in third place with 32 goals.
A FEW NOTES FROM THE GAME:
<ul><li>Shaone Morrisonn left the game early after getting hit by a puck. He is said to be fine and should play against Pittsburgh on Monday.</li><br>
<li>Mike Green picked up two more assists. Since December 29th, he has 6 goals and 8 assists for 14 points in only 9 games. For the fun of it, I'll convert that pace to an 82-game schedule. How does 55 goals and 73 assists for 128 points sound? That would shatter the goal scoring record by a defenseman by seven goals and it would give him the fourth highest point total ever, behind only Bobby Orr (2 of the top 3 totals) and Paul Coffey. 'Nuff said.</li><br>
<li>The Caps owned the faceoff dot, going 44-28. David Steckel led the way with a 16-5 mark while Boyd Gordon went 12-7. The Capitals biggest victim was rookie Shawn Matthias, who scored his first two NHL goals in only his second big league game. On faceoffs, though Matthias did not fare as well going 4-11. I'm sure he won't remember that, however, when he thinks back to the game.</li></ul>
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