Postgame Notebook: Capitals 3, Bruins 2
Middle Men –
Everyone knows that Nicklas Backstrom
is entrenched as the Caps’ No. 1 center. Backstrom, who signed a 10-year contract extension last May, spent most of last season centering for Alex Ovechkin
and Mike Knuble
and figures to start this season skating between the same wingers.
In Tuesday’s home preseason opener, Caps fans got a glimpse of their team’s future up the middle.
Washington skated off with a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Tuesday’s game, and each of the Caps’ three young pivot prospects had a hand in one of the goals.
scored the Caps’ first goal, Marcus Johansson
assisted on the second and Cody Eakin
scored the third – and the game-winning – goal.
The centers for Washington’s top three lines in Tuesday’s game brought a total of 21 games worth of NHL experience into the contest. All of those belonged to Perreault, the team’s sixth-round choice (177th overall) from the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. At 22 years of age, Perreault is the greybeard of the trio. He got the assignment of centering for Ovechkin and Knuble.
Johansson, the Caps’ first-round (24th overall) pick in the 2009 draft, skated between Brooks Laich
and Alexander Semin
. Eakin, chosen in the third round (85th overall) of the 2009 draft, pivoted for Jason Chimera
and Matt Bradley
. Johansson is living out the waning days of his teen years; he celebrates his 20th birthday next Wednesday. Eakin doesn’t turn 20 until next May 25.
The odds of all three – or even two – of the trio cracking the Caps’ opening night roster appear to be long. But all three appear to be very close to being ready for prime time in the District.
“They are playing pretty well,” notes Caps coach Bruce Boudreau. “Every game they are doing something to [make me] sit there at night and go, ‘They should stay, they should go, they should stay, they should go.’ I know the future looks bright at the center spot, when you add Nicky in there. So, I don’t know. We’ve got another week to make a decision, I would think.”
Mitten Men –
Caps left wing D.J. King – acquired in a July deal with the St. Louis Blues – wasted little time in making his presence felt. Playing in his first pre-season game in a Caps sweater, King dropped the mittens and fought Boston’s Shawn Thornton at 6:59 of the first frame. Both men landed a few good blows, and King finished the fight when he took Thornton down to the ice.
As you’d expect, it wasn’t the first time these two have tangled.
King and Thornton first fought on Jan. 16, 2007 when King was with the Blues and Thornton was with Anaheim. That bout was just the second of King’s NHL regular season career.
King and Thornton fought again on Dec. 22, 2007 with Thornton sporting the black and gold of the Bruins.
“I had told him earlier on, you don’t have to fight in training camp and stuff, but I think he wanted to show his new teammates and the fans that he is not bad at his craft,” says Boudreau. “I am not sure it [sparked momentum], but it made the guys feel better on the bench. Like they had a big brother out there. I am sure, because that’s the feeling I got. We never really had that tough, physical presence last year, and he played pretty well too.”
King played on a line with Boyd Gordon
and David Steckel
, and all three were making their pre-season debuts.
“We wanted to get the puck low and just kind of cycle and keep them off balance,” says King of his line’s performance.
Gordon drew a pair of penalties, including the one that led to Alexander Semin
’s power play goal. Steckel was the game’s top draw man, winning 11 of 15 (73%) in the face-off circle.
Diminishing Returns –
After surrendering 39 shots on goal to the Columbus Blue Jackets in their pre-season opener last week, the Caps have gotten stingy with the shots against. They allowed 25 shots to the Predators in Saturday’s 2-1 Washington win at Nashville, and they permitted just 22 shots to the Bruins on Tuesday night at Verizon Center.
Seeing his first pre-season action of 2010, Ovechkin sported the captain’s “C” as usual. He was joined in a leadership role by the two longest tenured Capitals, Semin and Boyd Gordon
, who wore the alternate captain’s “A.” Semin and Gordon were both first-round draft picks in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
Old Teammates –
Caps European scout Petri Skriko and Bruins president Cam Neely renewed acquaintances up in the press box during warm-ups for tonight’s game. The two were teammates for two seasons (1984-85 and 1985-86) with the Vancouver Canucks. Skriko and Neely tied for sixth on the team (along with Moe Lemay) with 21 goals in ’84-85. A year later, Skriko was the team’s leading scorer with 78 points (38 goals, 40 assists).
By The Numbers –
Caps defenseman Tom Poti
led all skaters from both sides with 23:24 in ice time … Poti and Karl Alzner
led the Caps with three blocked shots each. Boston’s Steven Kampfer blocked four … Eakin, Johansson and Laich are the only Caps to have played in all three games … Boston’s Milan Lucic and Wyatt Smith tied for the lead among all skaters on both sides with four hits … Semin’s goal came on the only one of his five shot bids that got through. The other four were blocked.