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Boudreau likes what he sees from Hunter's Caps


Boudreau likes what he sees from Hunter's Caps

Now that the Ducks have the summer off, former Caps, current Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau is now guest blogging for the LA Times to weigh in on the NHL playoff action (ST to @JapersRink for the find). This morning he shifted his attention back east and shared his thoughts on the Rangers-Capitals series, his replacement and his former team.

Braden Holtby played 14 games under Boudreau's watch, the first of his NHL career, and did so remarkably well. Despite playing behind a less than defensively sound team in 2010-11, Holtby posted an astounding 10-2 record, .934 save percentage and 1.79 goals against average in his first 14 games at the NHL level.

By the end of this year's campaign run he'll be at worst, just two games shy of those start totals. But if his play continues at current pace, he won't be far off his astonishing debut numbers. Through 10 playoff games (no, triple overtime does not give him 11) Holtby has faced 339 shots and the 22-year-old rookie ranks fourth among playoff goalies with a .935 SV and 1.94 GAA.

Pretty impressive numbers. But Boudreau is more impressed with the support in front of Holtby.

"The Capitals play a real dump-it-in, wait-for-your-chances type of game. And they are doing a great job of getting people to block shots." Boudreau said. "Everyone is lauding goalie Braden Holtby, but frankly the Rangers arent getting a lot of chances."

The Caps' commitment to protecting the crease, forcing shots to the perimeter and sacrificing their bodies can be seen regardless of which line is on the ice at the time. Their 218 blocked shots rank second among playoff teams only to their opponents' 225 and total a full 59 more thwarted attempts than the team trailing them (Phoenix).

In comparison, Boudreau's Capitals blocked 159 shots through nine playoff games last season, 188 in 14 games in their 2008-09 playoff run. But the biggest contributing factor to team toughness is a full team effort to protect Holtby. In 2011 77 percent of those blocked shots came from the blueline, 35 percent in 2009. This postseason 41 percent of blocks are coming from the forward lines, including Brooks Laich's 17.

The second-most among forwards? Nicklas Backstrom with 13. Alex Ovechkin's seven are the most of his playoff career.

A lot was made of Ovechkin's first benching under Boudreau. Whether it did or did not play a role in Boudreau's dismissal, the former Caps bench boss appreciates Dale Hunter's daring to keep the captain off the ice at critical junctures.

"I admire Dale Hunter for following the beat of his own drum." said Boudreau. "He is looking at the game and saying, 'This is how we are going to win.' Hes staying true to himself and doing exactly what he thinks is the right thing in order to be successful."

Ultimately though, Boudreau favors the one-seed to his former team in this series and thinks the Caps missed out on a big opportunity to strike while the Rangers were down.

"In the end, Ive always liked the Rangers." admitted Boudreau. "If they get Brandon Dubinsky back and Brian Boyle gets back to full strength, they can win the East."

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Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

Game 73 Capitals vs. Stars Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Dallas Stars

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Stars will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Stars game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (41-24-7) take on the Stars (38-27-8) Tuesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Stars game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Stars
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Stars game:

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny - Jakub Jerabek

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Brooks Orpik (lower body injury)


The Capitals-Stars game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.


Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?


Can Pittsburgh's past be a goalie rotation blueprint?

It’s happened. The Caps no longer seem to have a No. 1 goalie anymore, they have a No. 1 and 1a.

That’s right, we have a goalie rotation in Washington.

“There's no sense riding one,” Barry Trotz said after practice on Monday. “[Braden Holtby] is coming back and looking better every game and [Philipp Grubauer] played pretty well for a long stretch so why not have both of them going?”

Grubauer got the start Sunday in Philadelphia and Holtby is slated to get the start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars. After that we will have to wait and see.


Trotz has no layout for which goalie he wants to start and when in the remaining ten games. He is not thinking about each goalie splitting five games or which one he wants to use more.

Nope. Trotz has just one thing on his mind. It is all about who starts the next game, that’s it.

“I think you just go with a guy that's hot at the time and your team feels comfortable with and go from there,” Trotz said.

So where does this leave the goaltending situation when it comes to the playoffs? A goalie rotation is all well and good in the regular season, but he has to have one starter for the postseason, right?

Not necessarily.


When Trotz was asked if he philosophically believed in having one starter for the playoffs, Trotz initially said he would not answer, but then said, “Why don't you ask Mike Sullivan what he thinks.”

Sullivan, of course, is the head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins who has led his team to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons despite turning to both goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray in both seasons.

While Pittsburgh’s goalie rotation was largely based on injury, however, it still provides an example of how using both goalies can work in the playoffs and that seems to be the path the Caps are headed on at the moment.

Said Trotz, “You just have to go with your gut who you think is going to get the job done.”