Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau has been patient, even though the injury bug continues to take a big bite out of the lineup.
With eight players on the opening day roster on the shelf, “Gabby” does not make excuses for the team that is logging ice time, for the good guys in red.
Asked after a recent 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers to assess his team’s performance, Boudreau was clearly a man focused on what is happening on the ice.
“Our energy just wasn’t there,” said a demonstrative Boudreau. “We were used to playing every other game, and we came out tonight without fire."
“Maybe the time off is what killed us.”
He is right about the lack of consistency that is hurting the Capitals ability to put up back-to-back wins.
Boudreau’s answer to the problem has been to make shift changes, generally with good results.
In the Capitals 5-2 home victory over the New York Islanders Thursday night, he moved usual second-line center Michael Nylander up to the first line.
Nylander played the right wing, with sweet Swede Nicklas Backstorm taking the center position and Alexander Ovechkin completing the line on the left wing.
That strategy appears to be the norm for coach Boudreau, when the Capitals appear to be dogging it.
When healthy, longtime forward Sergei Federov was used on the checking line to provide strong leadership for the younger "green" defensemen.
Nylander did not register a point, but he did the little things to keep the puck in his team’s offensive zone.
“The Great Eight” Ovechkin led the team with two goals and an assist.
Eric Fehr, Viktor Kozlov, and Backstrom also found the back of the net to round out the solid team effort.
And welcome back, Brash!
Donald Brashear provided the game winner, breaking a 37-game goal scoring drought, early on in the third period.
The Capitals rely on Brashear to be their enforcer, and to stir things up a bit when the team needs him to do so.
However, the goal scoring is much appreciated in the absence of puck-handling defenseman Mike Green, still out with a shoulder injury.
Washington is on the road, for a meet and greet with the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at the Air Canada Centre.
Facing a team who is averaging two goals a game, just might be what the doctor ordered to keep the Capitals flying high.
The Capitals finished with 47 shots on goal, keeping constant pressure on Islanders goalie Joey McDonald.
Boudreau wanted them to shoot more.
Coach, your point was taken.
Goalie Brent Johnson broke a personal three game losing streak, notching his first win since he ruined Olaf Kolzig’s return to Washington back on Nov. 10. He is now 6-4-2 on the 2008-2009 season.