So game one without Alex Ovechkin didn’t go so well Wednesday night in New Jersey, but the Caps are going to seek retribution tonight here in South Florida.
Brian Pothier will be in the lineup, and John Erskine will be back out after playing for the first time since missing time with a hand injury. Bruce Boudreau also said Eric Fehr isn’t going to be back from his rib injury tonight, so Tyler Sloan will get another game at forward. Jose Theodore was the first guy off the ice and will likely start in net.
As for the Wednesday debacle, Boudreau said he’s still made about it — typically he’s calmed down and moved on two days removed from a game. He wants more from the PK — more pressure, and specifically at the other end of the ice.
Boudreau couldn’t remember the last time the Caps had a great chance to score shorthanded (neither can I) and he thinks that lack of a threat is making opposing power-play units a little too comfortable.
As for playing without Ovechkin, Boudreau said that’s why he was so disappointed with Wednesday night — he sees this as a great chance for guys to step out of Ovechkin’s shadow and prove they can do it without him, but they didn’t do that against the Devils. He pointed to the Penguins playing without Sidney Crosby two years ago and Evgeni Malkin/Sergei Gonchar this year as an example of why the Caps can’t be a truly great team until they prove they don’t live and die with one player.
The Panthers have won three straight after a terrible start, something that could be attributed to their European vacation to start the season. Coach Peter DeBoer didn’t want to blame the two games in Finland entirely for the slow start, but the evidence of teams going over there to start the season having slow starts is pretty overwhelming.
Last year, all four coaches got fired (Tampa Bay, N.Y. Rangers, Pittsburgh and Ottawa) and this year all four teams are off to starts at least somewhat below expectations (Detroit, Florida, Chicago and St. Louis).
No wonder the Caps’ brass is steadfast against having the team go over there to start the season despite the European presence on the roster.