Photo credit: Nick Wass
Dale Hunter hoped to lead the Washington Capitals to victory in his first game as head coach. He’d have to go through Jaroslav Halak to get there, but more importantly he’d have to get a flagging Capitals offense moving.
Alex Ovechkin threaded the needle, setting up Nick Backstrom to record the first goal of the game. T.J. Oshie cleaned up a Alex Steen’s slapshot to tie the score at 1-1. Matt D’Agostini caught a lucky bounce and wrapped it around to give St. Louis the lead. Despite a late-game flurry, it ended like that. Blues beat Caps 2-1.
With a marginally improved– or at least pleasantly masked– defensive performance, the Caps nonetheless struggled in the offensive zone. They got pushed to the margins, where they’d either cycle ineffectually or turn it over. More frequently, zone entries would be aborted by a St. Louis poke check or poor puck control in general.
Those who expected Dale Hunter to be a panacea– an instant cure– deserve their disappointment. We must remain patient as this team tries to find itself. Installing a Capitals institution behind the bench might kick start the process, but we fans need to prepare ourselves for a month-long peyote-adled animal spirit journey.
We’ll need to wait a bit longer to see what kind of change Hunter can effect. Maybe all the way to Thursday, when Sidney Crosby and the Penguins bring their infuriatingly excellent brand of hockey to Chinatown.
But we can’t wait too long. This roster is packed to the salary cap, designed to win a championship soon. Scapegoating a coach might buy some time, but there is still a ticking clock for this team.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.