As the NHL regular season comes down the home stretch, the Washington Capitals are trying to build momentum that can carry them deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Last Friday against the visiting New York Rangers, the Capitals looked like a team that forgot how to play defense, let alone play well at home. They were beaten soundly by the visiting Blue Shirts 6-0, tightening up the race for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. Washington had plenty of scoring chances, but were unable to get anything past New York goalie, Henrik Lundquvist.
Such has been the play of Washington all season long– play well on the road or against a high-caliber opponent then, look lethargic and disinterested against ‘weaker’ competition.
The next night, on the road against the New York Islanders, it appeared as if it would be a continuation of Friday’s lackluster performance; but the Capitals re-discovered their offense, played much better defense, and were ignited by the play of Mike Knuble and Alexander Semin. Both players scored goals in a come-from-behind, 3-2 win. Brooks Laich also had a goal and an assist in the victory.
After Saturday’s comeback, Washington appears to be playing ‘better’ and hopefully with the addition of an experienced veteran center in Jason Arnott, the Caps now have the stability, veteran leadership, and toughness needed to win close games. The trade for Arnott also moves Marcus Johansson to center the third line, where he probably belongs in his rookie season. The addition of defenseman, Dennis Wideman, in a trade with the Florida Panthers will help bolster the power play while Mike Green recovers from a head injury.