It’s not the way the Capitals wanted to start the Dale Hunter era, but the new coach and players saw positive signs in their 2-1 loss to St. Louis.
First of all, they limited the Blues to two goals. The Caps had been giving up an average of five in their previous five losses.
Dale liked the effort, felt the players worked hard, but knows it will take time before they feel comfortable with the transition of play from Bruce Boudreau’s system to his.
The Capitals, though, are still struggling to score no matter who’s behind the bench. They have been held to one goal in five of their last eight games. Hunter believes that will change with a better defense, including a more aggressive forecheck. That, he says will force turnovers and create odd-man offensive rushes for the Capitals.
This was not the case Tuesday night against St. Louis.
It was not fun to watch.
It looked like a Caps game from the ’90′s when Dale Hunter played. Low-scoring with few offensive chances. The Capitals finished with just 19 shots on goal.
No doubt, this will be a work in progress. It’s hard to believe the Capitals are back to where they were last December, when they lost eight straight and also couldn’t find the back of the net while suffering some ugly defeats.
Caps fans are hoping that their former captain can change that and finally lead them to their first ever Stanley Cup championship.
It certainly would be a heck of a story.
But, so would have Bruce Boudreau’s rags to almost riches situation. He helped turn Washington into a hockey town, made this team important to the local sports scene and not just an afterthought.
He helped make the Capitals one of the NHL’s most exciting teams, one of the league’s most elite.
But, coming up short in the playoffs and then struggles during this regular season finally caught up to Boudreau. Still, you’ve got to root for Bruce. The lovable, down-to-earth guy could be your uncle, brother or just someone having a beer and conversation with at the bar.
No airs whatsoever.
Hopefully he lands with another team soon, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him talking on TV.
He’s a hockey lifer.
And, so is Dale Hunter.
Good luck to both and good luck to the Capitals. This town needs a winner no matter who can deliver it.