seven months ago, I wrote about another epic playoff collapse for my beloved Washington Capitals. a fourth straight division title could not prevent them from a second round sweep at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I said that Bruce Boudreau should’ve been fired at the end of last season. they started off this season 8-0, but have gone 4-9-1 since then. shit goaltending, a defensive unit that is crippled without Mike Green, and forwards who fail to show up on a regular basis *cough* Alexander Semin *cough* have all contributed to Boudreau’s ouster.
yesterday it was made official, as the Caps fired Boudreau, replacing him with former Caps great, Dale Hunter. Boudreau arrived in Washington on Thanksgiving Day 2007, and turned the Caps from the worst team in the league (record-wise) into a division winner. Boudreau won the Jack Adams trophy as Coach of the Year that season. under his tenure, the Caps would win three more division titles, including their first ever Presidents trophy in 2010. but regular season success never translated into playoff success, as the Caps failed to make it past the 2nd round. someone once said Boudreau was the greatest AHL player to play the game. u could say he’s also the best regular season coach to coach in the NHL.
Alex Ovechkin said all the politically correct things to the media, that he was “shocked” by the firing, and denying any rift with Boudreau. but anyone who’s been watching the Caps this season know Ovie hasn’t been performing, and often times looks completely disinterested. this past weekend was the final straw, following a lackluster showing against the Rangers, and a 5-1 loss to a Buffalo side that was playing with half of the team from Rochester.
Dale Hunter played in the NHL for 19 seasons (11 with the Caps) and is the only player in league history to amass 1000 points and 3000 PIMs. in 2001, he took over as the coach of the OHL’s London Knights. he was the fastest coach to 400 wins (including six seasons with at least 49 wins) winning six division titles and a Memorial Cup in 2005. Hunter has had opportunities to coach elsewhere, but has always wanted to coach in Washington. the Dale Hunter era begins tonite against St. Louis. another team who made a recent coaching change, and are 7-1-2 under Ken Hitchcock. the Caps are 12-9-1, 2nd in the Southeast division, and 8th in the Eastern conference.
BOLD ASS PREDICTION: Caps win the division, but lose to the Bruins in the second round.