The Capitals remain winless in the preseason with their third and latest loss, 3-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night at United Center. Rust continues to show in Washington’s game but there should be a more complete NHL roster in the final four preseason games as Coach Bruce Boudreau assembles his lineup.
That didn’t stop Boudreau from expressing a little frustration with the fact that veterans Alex Ovechkin and Joel Ward were on the ice for all three Blackhawks goals and Brooks Laich was on the ice for two.
“It seemed like in the third period if we made a mistake it was the veterans that made the mistake, not the kids,” Boudreau said. “They were on for all three goals. . . . They should be smarter than that.”
Before getting to the notes, a quick health update on Marcus Johansson, who left the game in the second period after playing 9 minutes 6 seconds. The second-year center caught a cold and was dizzy on the ice, so Boudreau sent him off.
●Tomas Vokoun is one calm, composed presence in net. The veteran netminder obviously isn’t in midseason form in his first game since April, but through the first two periods, he put on a tutorial on the economy of movement in net and seemed to absorb every shot. His final save total (23 of 26) is a little misleading, though, because the blame for the first two goals can’t be placed on him alone.
“Reaction, timing stuff like that you need to get down, that’s why we play preseason games, to get in the game mode,” Vokoun said. “Not to think — to do it automatically. Now it’s a little bit choppy, a little bit hesitant.”
●Expect Ward’s goals to be similar to the one he scored tonight: He tipped in Ovechkin’s shot from his spot directly in front of Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford.
Those type of goals, namely ones scored by being a constant presence in front of the net, are ones the Capitals didn’t get with enough consistency last season, so having another big-bodied forward willing to take up residence in the blue paint isn’t a bad thing.
“I think that’s what Ward is gonna do,” Boudreau said. “He’s gonna get the ones that’s very much like Mike Knuble going to the net. Anything around the feet he’s just going to be hacking and whacking and hopefully he gets a couple more.”
●When is someone going to rise above the pack in the race for that open forward spot?
There are numerous players who were considered contenders for the open forward position when camp opened a week ago. Seven days and three preseason games later, no one has really emerged as a front-runner, which is surprising, at least to me.
With another round of cuts expected on Saturday and Hershey’s camp set to begin on Sunday, though, we may know soon who is out of the running for consideration there.