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Capitals upset might validate new strategy

Braden Holtby

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 19: Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals makes a save against the Boston Bruins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on April 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

The days of the Washington Capitals scoring over 300 goals in a single season seem to be firmly in the past. After winning their division for three straight seasons from 2008-10, but still falling short in the playoffs, Washington attempted to play a more defensive game, first under Bruce Boudreau and now under new coach Dale Hunter.

The Capitals struggled in the regular season, but ultimately, with the help of a hot goaltender, they made it past the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in seven games.

“We got through the first round,” Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. “We did that last year. So there’s relief and joy but there’s a lot of work left to do. I’ll think we improved over last year if we can get through the second round. That’s the goal, to do better year after year and this system seems to be the right system to play in the playoffs.

“To have seven one-goal games and four overtime games, this certainly was the best, most competitive series since I’ve owned the team.”

This does seem like a different breed of Capitals team. For all their offensive talent, it’s been their goaltending and defense that’s pushed them this far. The question now is if it will be enough in the second round or if all this drama will ultimately lead to another early exit.