capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Dale Hunter Steps Down

Photo courtesy of photopete
courtesy of photopete

And it looks as if ultimate samurai coach Dale Hunter has fallen on his sword for the now-ousted Washington Capitals. According to various sources, Hunter stepped down from his stint as bench boss this morning.

GM George McPhee indicated at a brief press conference that the team will be taking its time selecting a new coach. If the Caps are smart, they’ll have someone signed on before the NHL Entry Draft on June 21. (McPhee did hint to WaPo that this was indeed a possibility.)

ProHockeyTalk has a (questionable) list of possible replacements from the NHL coach recycling bin. Of all of those listed, I would think Bob Hartley’s the best option.

Who would you like to see helm the pine bench next season?

capitals hockey

Dale Hunter: Samurai Warrior

Photo courtesy of photopete

courtesy of photopete

Dale Hunter doesn’t talk much. But the Washington Capitals head coach is quietly leading his team into a Game 7 showdown in Madison Square Garden tomorrow night against the top-ranked New York Rangers.

The quiet but unflappable Hunter seems to exude confidence in his players, and they have responded in kind. Hunter has taken a team troubled by past playoff collapses and turned them into believers in his system and in themselves. The biggest difference between this post-season and the past four playoff failures is the man behind the bench.

There is only one possible explanation: Dale Hunter is actually a Samurai warrior. Continue reading

capitals hockey, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Caps Fall to Jets in Shootout, 3-2

Photo courtesy of photopete
Capital’s coach Dale Hunter
courtesy of photopete

Like many sports, hockey is a game of momentum and lucky bounces. As Caps’ coach Dale Hunter likes to say, “That’s hockey.” The Winnipeg Jets got a few lucky breaks last night to beat the Caps 3-2 before a sellout crowd at Verizon Center.

Ii was a wild ending. Four power play goals in the span of eight minutes late in the third period left the two teams tied at the end of regulation. After an inconclusive overtime, the Jets won the game in the shootout.

The Caps came out aggressively in the first period, peppering Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 12 shots on goal to the Jets 4. The Caps had another 13 shots that either missed the net or were blocked. Even though both teams play a “trap” style of defense, it was wide open hockey with fast rushes in both directions. It seemed like the clock had been turned back to the run-and-gun Caps of the best of the Boudreau years. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and to me it was a lovely sight. Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Come Up Short Against Cats

Photo courtesy of Brian Isemann
courtesy of Brian Isemann

The Washington Capitals dropped another game in their latest skid, losing to Southeast Division rival (and current leader) Florida. The Panthers held off a late-game rally by the Caps for a 5-4 victory and now lead Washington in the division by seven points.

The loss is the team’s ninth out of their last 12, and third in four games under new coach Dale Hunter.

The good:

  • The Caps played a solid 20 minutes. In the third period, but still – they almost pulled out a win.
  • Jason Chimera’s scoring touch continues; he tipped in a John Carlson shot with 1:44 remaining in the game, sparking some spirited (but fruitless) Caps play. Mike Knuble, Cody Eakin, and Brooks Laich also scored. Captain Alex Ovechkin had four…hits.
  • The Caps held Florida to six shots on goal in the final frame.

The bad:

  • Penalties. The Caps got a lot of them early, and Florida capitalized with 3 PPGs in the game.
  • The Caps power play is now 2 for 50 in the last 13 games. They failed to convert the two chances they had last night.
  • The team continued its inconsistent play, waking up only in the third period and putting in a solid effort to force a comeback. Too little, too late.

The quote:
Brooks Laich (via Tarik El Bashir): “It’s not acceptable to play hockey for 20 minutes and not execute for the other 40. We’re not here to try, we’re to win.”

capitals hockey, Sports Fix

Caps Fall to Penguins, 2-1

Photo courtesy of
Jason Chimera
courtesy of bridgetds

The calendar turned a page yesterday, but the Washington Capitals are still playing from their November playbook as they lost 2-1 to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night at Verizon Center. Jason Chimera scored the lone goal for the Caps to continue his hot start to the season. It was the first time the Caps had lost to the Penguins in regulation in more than three years.

In the Caps’ second straight loss under new head coach Dale Hunter, the team played a physically aggressive game but were badly outshot, 35-17 for the game. “We played too much in our own end,” said Hunter after the game. “We have got to get the puck out much quicker.”

Call it “Dale Hunter Hockey” as it is emerging over the past four days. It starts with solid defense, the relentless pursuit of the puck, lots of hard hitting, and battles in the corners. The Caps had a strong forecheck all night, getting to the offensive corners and winning position battles. But they failed to control the puck and were not able to convert the aggressive play into scoring chances. Passes did not connect. Very few shots were directed toward the goal.

I am reminded of the days when Ollie Kolzig would routinely face 40 shots a night backstopping a scrappy, tight-checking team. I miss Bruce Boudreau already. Continue reading

capitals hockey, The Daily Feed

Caps Alumni Dale Hunter New Head Coach

Photo courtesy of
‘Hunter and Gartner Banners’
courtesy of ‘clydeorama’
Early this morning the Caps dropped a major post-holiday bombshell. (Not that we didn’t see it coming.) Former Caps captain Dale Hunter has been announced as the team’s new head coach, replacing Bruce Boudreau. The change comes on the heels of a horrific November for the team, including a 5-1 loss to an overly injured Buffalo Sabres team. (A game we didn’t recap because it was that bad.)

Hunter played 19 seasons in the NHL, appearing in 1,407 games and tallying 1,020 points (323 goals). He is one of only four players to have their numbers retired by the Capitals. The new coach, recently of the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League, will make his bench debut tomorrow night as the Caps host the St. Louis Blues.

Under his guidance, the Knights won their first Memorial Cup Championship in 2004-05. Hunter is the fastest head coach in OHL history to record 300 and 400 career bench wins; he also possesses the highest winning percentage in league history with a record of 451-189-23-24 (.691) in his 11 seasons with the team.

We wish the new coach well in jump-starting the Caps back to their winning ways; he definitely has his work cut out for him.