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Neuvirth stellar in defensive gem

Posted By Dennis Patchett On Feb 21 2011 @ 10:45 pm In Washington Capitals | No Comments

Watching the Washington Capitals transition to a defensive system has been frustrating this year.  It hasn’t translated to as many wins, during the close games, as coach Bruce Boudreau would have hoped – until, the last two games.  The Caps have beaten the Buffalo Sabres (2-1) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (1-0) in two of their best defensive games of the year.  The best part?  Both games were on the road!  To win the Stanley Cup, this type of defensive road game is exactly what Boudreau has been looking for, since trying to change the Capital’s style of play.  

The Caps went 3-2 on their most recent road trip.  Good news – two tight defensive wins!  And – two wins against their only two Eastern Conference opponents.  Bad news – the Caps went 1-2 against the Western Conference teams they faced during this road trip.  The only Western Conference road trip win, was a defensive debacle. 

Michal Neuvirth stopped 39 of 39 shots, to lead the Washington Capitals.  Neuvirth was impressive.  He was square to all shooters and limited second chances by controlling his rebounds.  Very good news, considering Semyon Varlamov stood tall against the Sabres, in the Cap’s previous win.  Coach Boudreau continues to challenge the goaltenders, as they are sharing games evenly.  Boudreau seems to care less as to whom guards the cage.  In the long run, such goaltender competition will keep each goalie sharp and the defensive scheme less reliant on a hot goalie, and more focused on their responsibilities.

Alex Ovechkin scored the game winner on a second period power play goal.  That’s more good news, as the power play continues to struggle, ranked 21st in the NHL, heading into tonight’s game.

The Caps are home for some much needed rest, some home cooking, and to play the New York Ranger this Friday night.

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