The Caps have just wrapped up the morning skate here at K-Plex. The lines will be the same as they were yesterday, with David Steckel in on the “second line” and Eric Fehr as the healthy scratch. Nashville is not skating this morning. The ice at Verizon Center isn’t ready because of the horse show and the Predators didn’t want to skate in Arlington.
A couple of other things from the morning:
*Chris Clark got off to a slow start last season, but this year he has one assist in eight games and at 13:27 per contest is playing nearly two minutes per games less than any of his seasons with the Caps and almost five minutes less he did when he scored 30 goals two seasons ago (18:20). In three of the team’s eight games, Clark has seen less than 12 minutes of ice time.
“The team is a lot better than it was in the past,” Bruce Boudreau said. “I think a little bit has to do with the way the talent is. He wasn’t on the first unit of the power play and he wasn’t on the penalty kill, so if there is are a lot of power plays and penalty kills you don’t get the ice time you maybe deserve or think you deserve.”
*Boudreau had a Hershey Bears sweatshirt on, which was a nice segue to a few questions about the Caps’ top farm club. The Bears are lighting up the AHL, not only with a 7-1 record but an offense that resembles something from the 1980s. Hershey has 44 goals in eight games, which is 15 more than the next-best team in the league.
“I’m pretty on top of the situation down there,” Boudreau said. “They’re scoring goals and they’re 7-1. Other than a blip on the radar there the one game, where I think they were a little overconfident and it was the third game in three nights, but otherwise they would be perfect. They are off to a great start.”
Keith Aucoin leads the league with 17 points (his 12 assists are more points than all but two players), while Alexandre Giroux has a league-best eight goals and is third with 12 points. Graham Mink and Chris Bourque are tied for fourth with two other players with 11 points.
Obviously the Bears want to win, but developing the young talent is also part of the deal. Bourque is performing the best of the “prospects,” but Andrew Gordon (five goals, nine points), Oskar Osala (five goals, six points) and Mathieu Perreault (two goals, six points) are all also off to good starts.
“We think [winning] matters a lot,” Boudreau said. “We did when I was there. We think the best way to develop is through winning — and not necessarily even skill-wise, but the attitude of winning is so important. When guys win, they not only know how to win, but they know how to hate to lose.”
Two other guys that Caps fans want to keep tabs on are defensemen Karl Alzner and Sami Lepisto. Alzner has a goal and five points and is plus-9, which is second on the team to Lepisto’s plus-10. Lepisto has a goal and six points.
“By all accounts from Hershey … [Alzner] is doing extremely well,” Boudreau said. “He’s one of the main reasons that team is off to a great start. He is everything as advertised.”