The Caps face Colorado in the second leg of the Jose Theodore Reunion Tour tonight. Staffan Kronwall will be in the lineup for his second game as a member of the Caps. He is replacing John Erskine. Bruce Boudreau said Erskine was held out of practice yesterday because he was a little under the weather.
Viktor Kozlov skated breifly this morning, but Boudreau didn’t have an update on him or his availability tonight. Boudreau did say the team would continue to be cautious with Kozlov, in part because of the position the team is in. With a comfortable lead in the Southeast Division, the Caps are really only trying to keep pace with New Jersey for the No. 2 seed, which probably isn’t something guys should be playing through injuries to do (better for them to get back to 100 percent as the postseason approaches).
“If the guy is hurt, but I can’t see myself saying, ‘Hey, Alex take the day off,’ ” Boudreau said. “I don’t think that would work.” NOTE: He means taking a game off.
The Caps have three of their last four games against Western Conference opponents at home, and those three teams were, at the time they came through D.C., outside the top eight in the West. Now, as it turns out Columbus is a lot better than people think and the game against Los Angeles was in the middle of a hot streak for the Kings.
So Boudreau isn’t buying the “play down to the competition” chatter from the past two days.
“When was the last time we played down to our competition?” Boudreau said. “We’ve lost two games [in regulation] in our last 14 and [the Kings] won [four] games in a row on that road trip against good teams. We weren’t playing down to them — they were playing really well. Colorado has won [two] games in a row and is desperate. Every team has sense of urgency, and it is the NHL — there’s no bad teams. Do we think we are holier than thou? We don’t. We thinl we’re a hard-working team that has had some success. That question is not a good question.”