Eight Caps Thoughts Through Seven Games

  • Tomas Vokoun may turn out to be the highest-impact offseason acquisition in the league given how well he’s played in Washington thus far. In the five games since allowing five goals to Tampa Bay (three of them horribly soft by his standards), his save percentage is .968.

 

  • After the team’s resounding 7-1 win over Detroit, Troy Brouwer noted the similarities between the forward depth of the cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks team he was on two years ago and the current Caps. Brouwer, who is finding a home on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, compared the Blackhawks’ defensive shutdown line that featured Dave Bolland to the Caps’ third-line trio of Brooks Laich, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward.

 

  • Vokoun has been making difficult saves look routine, so it’s natural to forget how important it is that he isn’t allowing any deflating soft goals either. Case in point: the goal Mattheiu Perreault scored on Ty Conklin Saturday night with seven seconds left in the second period, which Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said “buried” his team.

 

  • After Mike Green’s two-goal performance against Detroit, Bruce Boudreau noted that Green, who has battled several injuries over the last two seasons, is not only healthy again but talked about how focused he was coming into training camp. Perhaps GM George McPhee’s in-person discussions with Green over the offseason made a difference after all.

 

  • Boudreau is going to have a difficult decision to make when the Caps’ other goaltender, Michal Neuvirth, returns from a foot injury. Vokoun, who is two years younger than Tim Thomas, shows no signs of aging and may be putting together a Vezina-caliber season. Does Boudreau split their time evenly like he did with his goalies last season, or does he continue to plug Vokoun in for the bulk of the games? It has to be tempting to keep riding Vokoun, who was a durable workhorse the last few years in Florida.

 

  • As of Saturday night, Dennis Wideman was tied for fifth in points among defensemen. Wideman has points in every game so far and has allowed Boudreau to move Alex Ovechkin down low on the power play.

 

  • More on the power play: Last season’s power play funneled through Ovechkin on the point and saw a massive drop in production from the previous year. Now, with Wideman and Green on the points, the league has yet to adjust to the new setup. Washington’s power play is now operating at 29.6 percent, the best in the league. Boudreau has moved Ovechkin around to give opponents a different look, putting him both in front of the net and along the half wall.

 

  • Through seven games, Nicklas Backstrom was tied with Ottawa defenseman Erik Karlsson and Canucks’ star Daniel Sedin for the league lead in assists with 8. Coming off a down year, it seems Backstrom has fully recovered from the thumb injury that helped render him ineffective in the playoffs.
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