Only a year ago the Washington Capitals were an offensive powerhouse lead by a trio of the leagues’ most recognizable names.
After an early season slump and the firing of Coach Bruce Boudreau, the Caps have transitioned into a gritty, defensive oriented team that depends less on its stars and more on the system for its success.
In an interview with Mike Wise on 106.7 The Fan Tuesday morning, New York Rangers play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert pointed out the strategies being implemented by Dale Hunter are similar to those of opponents who’ve had success against the Caps in the past. In short, Washington is emulating what once ailed them.
“The Rangers roll all four lines, they hit and they block shots so maybe the Caps felt that in order to have success against the Rangers they had to kind of do the same thing,” said Albert. “The commitment we’ve seen from the Caps as far as blocking shots, I think (Matt) Hendricks had two or three over the course of 20 seconds, it’s not something we’ve seen from the Caps over the last few years. “
In addition to center Matt Hendricks, Albert named Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle and Joel Ward among the unlikely contributors for the Caps in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
“In both 2009 and last year, the names Ovechkin , Backstrom, Semin and Green were the ones we uttered on the broadcast the most often,” said Albert. “It’s somewhat bizarre over the first two games it’s been Hendricks, Chimera, Beagle and you can go right on down the line (with) Knuble, Ward, etc…”
Despite spending only 13 minutes on the ice during game two of the Caps-Rangers series, Alex Ovechkin scored what would become the game winner 7:27 left in the third period.
The two time Hart Memorial Trophy winner has experienced a decreased role lately but Albert believes that he can still be just as deadly.
“I think Ovechkin really stood out for the first time in this series during the power play before his goal,” said Albert. “Ovechkin had two or three shots during the power play and even though he had only played nine minutes over the first two periods, watching Ovechkin over that power play it seemed he really stepped up his game and then he scores the goal.”
Though everyone isn’t happy about how the new Caps style, Albert said that the result will ultimately speak for themselves.
“As long as the Capitals keep winning Dale Hunter is doing the right thing,”said Albert.