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Caps Are Picking Up Where They Left Off

Look who's back on the ice: Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. Ovechkin scored two goals in Thursday's pre-season game.
Look who's back on the ice: Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals. Ovechkin scored two goals in Thursday's pre-season game. (By Luis M. Alvarez -- Associated Press)
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Sunday, September 28, 2008; Page D02

So quietly, it seems, the Washington Capitals have slipped over the boards onto the ice in the middle of Dallas week to announce their presence to Washington and proclaim their late-season surge to the NHL's Southeast Division title was no fluke.

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In their first week of practice, the Caps drew lively crowds to their practice rink in Ballston and swept exhibition games against division rival Carolina. Caps all-world forward Alex Ovechkin scored two goals Thursday night in front of 13,266 fans at Verizon Center and Ray Bourque's kid, Chris, scored one.

"A different vibe," owner Ted Leonsis said of the aura surrounding his team this season.

The coach, Bruce Boudreau, who spent his whole career in the minors before replacing Glen Hanlon last Thanksgiving when the club was in the cellar, reveled in the drive to the playoffs. He not only motivated his players, he delighted fans with his unassuming candor and wit.

Boudreau has more parts now to go with Ovechkin -- plus a quality goalie in José Théodore and a lively locker room that includes returning veteran Sergei Fedorov.

"Last year we found out what it was like to win," Boudreau said. "It was a great feeling just to get in. We got to the playoffs, but didn't go anywhere, or win nothing."

Maybe the Caps didn't go anywhere in the playoffs, as Boudreau said, but they did win something important at the time: the town.

Dallas Week Musings

What's with Dallas being an 11-point favorite? Who made that line, Jerry Jones?

Since the rivalry began in 1960, Dallas has won 56 times (mostly because of cheap chop-blocks and lucky passes by Longley, Staubach and Aikman), the Redskins won 38 times, and there have been two ties.

But, most of all about Dallas week, I miss:

· Tom Landry's car coat, the RFK stands shaking behind Landry.

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