Sorry for the delay everyone, but I had to report and write a story for tomorrow's paper before blogging.
Anyway, as you've no doubt read by now, Coach Bruce Boudreau still was stewing over the Caps' lopsided loss last night in San Jose - and today he sent a stern message to his players with a difficult practice, by rearranging his lines and with some tough talk afterward.
Throughout the hour long session, Boudreau could be heard yelling - both encouragement and criticism. He doesn't often drop the hammer. But when he does, it grabs everyone's attention.
"This was a necessity today to have a good hard practice," Boudreau said at Toyota Sports Center, the Kings' El Segundo practice rink. "We're not used to [losing], we don't like it and we want to get better."
"If we talk about wanting to be one of the better teams, we better act like we want to be one of the better teams," he continued. "When we go into a building like San Jose, you get your butt handed to you [when] you don't compete with them. Let alone the Carolina game."
Boudreau was most upset about his team's weak first period effort at HP Pavilion. They logged only three shots, of which only one was taken by a forward, and found themselves trailing 2-0 after 20 minutes.
The Caps' next chance to redeem themselves comes Saturday at Staples Center against the Kings, who had lost four in a row entering tonight's game in Minnesota. (They're currently up 4-1 on the Wild).
"Depending on what they do, they're either going to come in really mad or starting to feel good about themselves," Boudreau said of the Kings.
In an effort to get his league-leading offense going again, Boudreau shuffled his lines. He put Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin back together on the first line.
The other combos? Well, Boudreau wasn't ready assign a number to them.
"I don't know if that's the second line or the third line or whatever," Boudreau said when asked about putting grinder Matt Bradley with Brendan Morrison and Tomas Fleischmann. "Our best scoring line is Nicky, Alex and Alex. That goes without saying. But after that, I thought we would [go with] a little aggressiveness on the other lines. I didn't think we got it enough last night. We were playing way too much of a perimeter game. If we want to win against the big boys, it takes a lot of physicality and we didn't show up and do that last night."
Most of the hour long practice was dedicated to brushing up on systems play. Tomorrow's New Year's Day session, though, will focus on the power play, specifically the five-on-three set up.
"We've got a practice tomorrow and I'm sure it's going to be a little bit of power play," Boudreau said somewhat sarcastically.
"It's not back to the drawing board," Boudreau added when asked about his team's overall defensive performance the past two games (the Caps have yielded 11 goals and more than their fair share of prime scoring chances). "But it's time to tweak a few things."
Tomorrow's practice is scheduled for 3:15 PT at Toyota Sports Center.
Also, make sure to read my story in tomorrow's Post. A source told me today that the league's priority for next year's Winter Classic will be getting Ovechkin and the Caps into the annual outdoor classic. (It should be on the web soon).