Washington Capitals: 14 Games into Bruce Boudreau's Season

Travis LoftisCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2007

The Washington Capitals fired Glen Hanlon on Thanksgiving morning in the US this year. 

Since then, the team has been playing harder, with more success on the power play and penalty kill, and really developing into a team that scraps and fights.

Regardless of individual scores, and the results are showing, and the Caps are looking better than their mediocre 7-5-2 record.

Any Caps fans getting a buzz off of this?

The irony is, in Glen Hanlon's first two years, this is exactly what the Caps did.  The record didn't show, but the team fought and scrapped, and did what they could.  What's the difference now?

The answer lies not in Bruce Boudreau's talent as a coach.  He may or may not be any better than Hanlon is—at this point it's hard to tell.  The real key for the new look (4-1-1 in their last six games) may just be that his former Hershey Bears are comfortable in the pros.

To see that, one needs to look no further than Mike Green.  Green has been chastised a bit by Caps fans in his first year or two on the squad.  This year, everyone is falling in love with him.  With a new haircut and apparently some new speed, he's cutting through defenses while playing well on his own.

Jeff Schultz is another prime example.  He had been playing so poorly that he was riding the bench, even though his training camp was great.  Boudreau stepped in and has him playing good defense—and while there's room for improvement, especially in the hitting department, Caps fans need not fear Olie to be caught with a bad two-on-one or breakaway.

Fleischmann is playing well, and so is David Steckel.  Ovechkin has just been lights out.

For many, if not all of the Caps fans and the entire NHL, the real test of the Boudreau reign up to this point will come when the Capitals venture into the Igloo in Pittsburgh on Thursday. 

A win against the Penguins would not only be great for Caps fans, but good for the supposed rivalry between the two clubs, which has been diminished in no small part to the Capitals' rebuilding approach, compared to the Penguins approach of seeing which signings can be made to stick. 

It'd also do great things to the standings. 

With three straight wins in their upcoming matches against the Isles, Lightning, and Pens, the Caps could be up to 35 points.  If the Penguins don't win any coming into that game, they could find themselves only one up on the up-until-now mediocre Capitals.

If there's one thing that Caps fans hate, it's the Penguins, and their contingent of fans that travel to the Verizon Center.  To see the Caps upstage the Penguins in their arena would bring a smile and a belated happy holiday to many a Caps fan.

And with Boudreau, and his contingent of former Bears now on professional ice, it isn't a forgone conclusion it won't happen. 


    Ranking the Top 10 NHL Hockey Players of All Time

    NHL logo

    Ranking the Top 10 NHL Hockey Players of All Time

    David Kenyon
    via Bleacher Report

    Second Round Stanley Cup Playoff Openers Announced

    Washington Capitals logo
    Washington Capitals

    Second Round Stanley Cup Playoff Openers Announced

    via NHL.com

    How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

    Washington Capitals logo
    Washington Capitals

    How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

    NBC Sports Washington
    via NBC Sports Washington