After spending the last three games facing opponents to whom defense is more a way of life than a system, it seemed like good timing for the Capitals to face Winnipeg.
The Jets allow an average of 3.28 goals per game (25th in the NHL) compared to Nashville’s 2.47 and New Jersey’s 2.76. But while Washington wants to get the offense on track with a little more consistency, it would rather learn from the games against the Devils and Predators than simply forget those lessons and fire up the run-and-gun style against the Jets.
“I think playing Nashville and New Jersey the last couple days and seeing how they commit, their whole team, to play defensive and offensive at the same time and the way that they work,” Dennis Wideman said. “We should learn from that. With the skill that we have if we could put that all together, everybody playing the way that they’ve played us the last couple games then we’re going to be a lot better team.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau has often said that ideally, he’d like to see an offensively reliable team that can also stick to its druthers on defense. That’s easier said than done, though.
“That’s the kind of game we want to play because that’s the kind of game where we’re strongest. That’s the way we played last year and we don’t want to run and gun,” Boudreau said. “I don’t know why you can’t score a lot of goals and play great defensively as well. That’s our goal. We think we can apply pressure and play really good defensively.”
Against Nashville Tuesday night, the Capitals played strong in their own end in what was a scoreless tie for 55 minutes – fueled largely by the efforts of goaltenders Pekka Rinne and Tomas Vokoun – but all of that is irrelevant when lapses cost them the game.
“When you’re playing a good team, and when you get into the playoffs at the end of a season — that one messup costs you the game,” Wideman said. “We had two breakdowns the whole game basically, and it cost us the hockey game.”