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Boudreau: 'Offense is great, but defense wins'


Boudreau: 'Offense is great, but defense wins'

From 3,000 miles away Bruce Boudreau has kept a close eye on the Capitals and their historic season, mostly because, well, he can’t help himself. And yes, he’s impressed.

“As you would probably think, I watch a lot of their games,” Boudreau said in today’s Ocean Country Register. “What people don’t realize is how fast they are. But they’re also big. They’ve got the combination of speed and size and they can play any way you want to play.

“And then they’ve got the goaltender that’s as good as anybody in the world right now.”

Tonight at 10 p.m. (9:30 Pregame Live, CSN) Boudreau will see if he can get the hottest team in the NHL to beat the best team in the NHL.

And it will be very interesting to see what kind of game is played.

If you recall, the Ducks started the season by losing nine of their first 10 games (1-7-2) while scoring just 10 goals in those 10 games. Many believed Boudreau would not survive past Halloween.

Since then, the Ducks have gone 36-12-6 and have averaged 2.79 goals per game. The Ducks enter tonight’s game atop the Pacific Division and on an 11-game win streak, not so much because of their offense, but because of their stingy defense.

Anaheim is tied for first in the NHL with a goals-against per game average of 2.28. The Kings are also at 2.28, while the Capitals are at 2.29.

“That’s how (the Kings) won the Cup,” Boudreau said. “And that’s how Chicago won the Cup. There’s no secret. Offense is great, but defense wins.”

Boudreau should know from his early days with the high-flying Capitals. When the Caps last won the Presidents’ Trophy under Boudreau in 2009-10, they averaged a league-best 3.82 goals per game but ranked 16th in goals against (2.77).

Under Barry Trotz this season, the Caps rank first in the NHL with 3.22 goals per game, while ranking third in goals-against at 2.29.

The Caps are also nearly unbeatable when holding a lead through two periods (33-0-1) and so are the Ducks (23-0-3). The Caps have outscored opponents 83-51 in third periods this season, while Anaheim holds an edge of 60-45.

“It makes you feel that when you’ve got a lead, you’re very comfortable playing with that lead,” Boudreau said. “Right now we are. We’re comfortable playing with the lead. We seem to be able to – so far up to this point – shut a lot of teams down.

“If you ever want to win in the playoffs, you got to be able to do that. If we feel we can do it and we do it, it’s much better for us.”

It may seem hard to believe, but Boudreau has coached more games with the Ducks (334) than he did in five seasons with the Caps (329). And, after notching his 400th NHL coaching victory Saturday against the Kings (199-98-37 with the Ducks, 201-88-40 with the Caps) he has a chance to notch his 200th victory with Anaheim tonight.

RELATED: For Capitals, it's no California vacation

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The 6 most important things Brian MacLellan said about new Caps acquisition Brenden Dillon

The 6 most important things Brian MacLellan said about new Caps acquisition Brenden Dillon

ARLINGTON, Va. --  While the Capitals were on the road, Brian MacLellan was hard at work and finalized a deal on Tuesday to bring San Jose Sharks defenseman Brenden Dillon to Washington. On Wednesday he met with the media to talk about the newest Cap.

"He's got playoff experience, he's a veteran player, physicality, the ability to play with top-end guys, a good character guy," MacLellan said. "I think he'll add a lot of energy in our room and on the ice. He's a physical presence. He checked a lot of boxes for everything we thought we needed."

Here are the six most important things MacLellan said about Dillon.

Dillon may be a top-pair player

Dillon is certainly a top-four defenseman, but the Caps added a player they feel can play on the top pair.

"I think we move him around a little bit," MacLellan said. "He could play with [John Carlson], could play with [Dmitry Orlov]. He's played with two good guys in San Jose. I anticipate the coaches trying him at both spots and see what works best for us."

Todd Reirden echoed those thoughts after practice.

When asked if Dillon playing with Brent Burns made him a natural fit to play with Carlson on the top pair, Reirden said, "That's my first initial thought. That is a similar type of player for sure."

Either Kempny or Jensen is going to get bumped out of the top four

When you re-read MacLellan's comments on Dillon playing in the top four, he said he could play with either Carlson or Dmitry Orlov. Adding a player into the top four means taking someone out and, based on those comments, that player is either going to be Michal Kempny or Nick Jensen.

Dillon is not the solution for the team's problems on the right

Right defense has been an issue for the Caps this season, but it does not sound like the plan is to plug Dillon in on the right side.

MacLellan was asked if Dillon could play on his off-side and he gave a tepid endorsement.

"He could, yeah," MacLellan said. "I think he's played a little bit on the off-side, but Orly's had some experience playing on the off-side. There's a number of different combinations we could try."

Reirden was asked who would play the right if Dillon and Orlov played together, and he said it would be Orlov.

While both MacLellan and Reirden said it would be an option to try Dillon on the right, it did not sound like that was the long-term plan at all.

This was not a reaction trade

Washington has lost four of its last five games and is 11-11-0 since Dec. 23. The team suddenly no longer sits in first place in the Metropolitan Division and trails the Pittsburgh Penguins by a point in the standings. The Caps' recent struggles, however, did not influence this deal, at least according to MacLellan.

MacLellan stated twice that he would have made this deal "regardless because I think it's a great fit for us — I think his skillset and the group we do have. I think one of the things that's been frustrating for me is the play in front of our own net, the compete level in front of our own net, and this is something he brings to the table here. I think he does a great job in front of our net. So I think we addressed that through him."

It should be noted that MacLellan has previously stated he was only looking for depth at the trade deadline and now has acquired a player who may well end up playing on the team's top pair. If you take him at his word, however, MacLellan liked Dillon and liked the upgrade, and that's why this deal got done — not because of the team's current struggles.

Dillon's playoff experience is a major reason why he is now with Washington

Last season, MacLellan traded for a defenseman playing a significant role on a bad team in Nick Jensen. Jensen had zero playoff experience and that showed in the team's postseason series against the Carolina Hurricanes. This year, MacLellan elected to go a different route.

Dillon has 62 games of playoff experience under his belt and helped the San Jose Sharks reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 and the Western Conference Final in 2019.

MacLellan was asked how much that experience mattered to him, and he said, "A lot. A lot. I think he’s been in the final. He’s been on good teams, similar to us. I think San Jose and Washington had top teams for a long time and he’s been in that environment, so I think it’s a good fit.”

Physical play is still a major part of the team's identity

Dillon is not the type of player you go out an acquire if physicality is not a priority.

For the season, Dillon ranks ninth in the NHL with 178 hits. His acquisition means the Caps now have five of the top 21 hitters in the league.

"I think we're all attracted to size as long as it can play," MacLellan said. "We like having the big bodies and playing a heavier game, and he's a good skater for his size, too. He has that physical presence, and we're excited to see how it fits for us."

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Here's how you can score free Chipotle by wearing your Caps jersey Friday

Here's how you can score free Chipotle by wearing your Caps jersey Friday

Now's your chance to score some free Chipotle, Caps fans!

By wearing your favorite Capitals jersey on Friday, you can earn a free entree through Chipotle's "suit up and score" campaign with the purchase of another entree of equal or lesser value.

While all jerseys qualify for the promotion, we recommend Alex Ovechkin's as he goes for goal No. 700.

So rock your red, grab a friend and head to Chipotle for this awesome deal redeemable Friday, Feb. 21 only.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.