For Caps, Accountability, Aggression Are The Keys
The Washington Capitals are 6-4-1 since coach Bruce Boudreau made the move south from Hershey to the nation's capital, and the reason can be summed up in a single word: accountability. Whether it is calling out goaltender Olie Kolzig for letting in a soft goal, or benching Brian Pothier for two games due to a bad pass led to an Devil's goal last week, the coach has shown that no one is above the rest of the team; something that had not been the case, at least outwardly, in Glen Hanlon's time behind the bench.
Beyond holding players accountable, Boudreau is also an excellent tactician known for the aggressive offensive style he demands of his players, and this mind-set has reaped immediate dividends from his team. In the 21 games Glen Hanlon coached the Caps this season, the team scored more than three goals only thrice (14%); since Boudreau took the reigns, the red, white and blue has potted four or more goals four times in just eleven contests, or 36% of the games played. In a year where scoring is down league-wide, scoring more than four in 36% of your games will win you your fair share.
Another factor that has eased the transition for Boudreau is his familiarity with the talent. The Caps are very much a homegrown team, and as such, Boudreau knows many of the players very well. As a matter of fact, he coached nine of the 24 players on the current roster whilst working behind the bench in Hershey. Two of those players, defensemen Mike Green and Jeff Schultz have flourished offensively since Boudreau took over. Schultz has two goals in the last two games, and Green is tied for first in the league in goals by a defensemen with seven, four of which have come under Boudreau.
The improved play under the new coach hasn't been a huge surprise. Boudreau has been successful as a coach at every level thus far. He led the IHL Fort Wayne Komets to the Turner Cup finals in his first season (93-94). He won the Kelly Cup as coach of the ECHL Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1999. Then, of course, he won the Calder Cup in Hershey in 05-06, then nearly repeated in 06-07, losing in the finals to the Hamilton Bulldogs.
That being said, it is impossible to know how success in lower levels of hockey will translate into the big show, but if these first nine games are any indication, the Caps may have themselves one heck of a coach for years to come. Obviously, nine games are too small of a sample size to make such a statement definitively, but the early returns are promising.
Hopefully for the players and fans, Boudreau's winning ways will give the Washington Capitals the push they need to turn this season around and make a run at the first post-season appearance since the 02-03 season.
Knowing what there is to know about Bruce Boudreau, his goal is probably much higher than that.
- Scott Hurrey
This article was released on 2007-12-15.
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