Good afternoon from Kettler Iceplex in Arlington, Va., the Caps' practice facility where Bruce Boudreau used to spend a lot of his days.
After yesterday's loss, Boudreau asked his leadership corps if the Wild minded switching off-days and practicing today rather than Friday. The reason? Two-fold: 1) With a winter storm headed to D.C., Boudreau was worried Tuesday's morning skate could be scrapped; 2) The Wild has only had two practices since the bye and Boudreau wanted the goalies to get reps and to reinforce a bunch of stuff.
The leaders were fine with it, so here they were.
Same lines in practice, but I hear Tyler Graovac will be recalled with Martin Hanzal expected to miss the rest of the road trip -- final two games -- with the flu.
Boudreau had a good chat with Devan Dubnyk this morning after yanking him in Chicago after allowing two goals on two shots. Boudreau told Dubnyk he probably got too wound up facing so quickly a multiple-goal deficit for the third straight meetings against the Hawks.
Dubnyk said he appreciated the talk, and Boudreau said he fully believes Dubnyk will get his game together after a couple shaky goalies in recent starts.
"I wasn’t upset with the decision at all," Dubnyk said. "I felt fine. I've played enough games. I don’t get nervous or rattled. I know my job at that point is to try to make the next save and try to keep it at two, and I was ready to do that. But I completely understand in that situation at that part of the game that you need a spark, and I told him that after."
Said Boudreau, "He’s our guy, and we’ll live and die with him."
The Wild has lost four of its past six games. The Capitals have lost seven of their past 12 and four in a row in regulation for the first time almost 2 ½ years.
The Wild’s in danger of losing its standing atop the Western Conference. The Capitals, too, have led the Eastern Conference since Jan. 15 but are in danger of losing their spot if the Pittsburgh Penguins takes care of business in Calgary Monday night.
What’s more, Alex Ovechkin, who has 10 goals in 10 career games against Minnesota, has gone a franchise-long 10 straight games without a goal and 18 games without an even-strength goal.
“He’ll get out of it one day. I just hope it’s not [Tuesday],” quipped Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.
Said Dubnyk, "I don’t think it matters if he’s got 10 straight with a goal or without, he’s a unique threat. You have no choice but to be aware of him when he’s out there. He likes to shoot the puck, and you’ve got to be prepared for it. He slings it from everywhere. Sometimes it comes off funny when he’s just whpping it from the boards, and it comes at you in a hurry."
The Capitals were 17-2-1 entering their mid-February “bye,” averaging 4.65 goals per game in that span. Since, they’re 5-6-1 with 26 goals scored (2.12 per game). That’s remarkable considering this is a team that before its bye scored five or more goals for 10 consecutive home games. Before being swept on their California trek, the Capitals had their 15-game home winning streak snapped by the Dallas Stars.
Boudreau is surprised by the Capitals’ recent skid, and I wrote about that for Tuesday's paper.
I have a ton of good stuff from Boudreau about his time with the Caps, and that'll be in Wednesday's paper.
Sorry for the rushed blog, but I have a Pentagon tour to get to. A couple Wild players have a cool White House tour lined up, too, which I hope to write about Wednesday.
I'll be on KFAN at 9 a.m.