Friday, December 5, 2008

Bruce Boudreau; A holiday gift that all Caps fans can cherish.

Bruce Boudreau made his NHL coaching debut November 23rd, 2007 in a matinee with the Philadelphia Flyers in which Washington left with a 4-3 overtime victory.

It seems as though the employment of Boudreau was an early Christmas gift for the organization and by the looks of it - is a gift that keeps on giving.

Since that fateful day, Capitals fans have been blessed watching their team sky rocket in the standings and are now back on the scene in the NHL.

According to the Nielsen Report, Capitals local television ratings are up 140 percent over 2007's numbers, which represents the biggest jump in the NHL.

A lot of that has to do with the offensive system implemented by the new bench boss, which captures the blend of firepower and finesse that the Capitals possess, a style that speaks to a new generation of hockey fans.

Since the departure of head coach Ron Wilson after the 2001-02 season, the Capitals saw they're record plummet to a somber 119-156-61, which includes a playoff drought that spans back to the 2003-04 season.

Bruce Cassidy and Glen Hanlon both preceded Boudreau, but neither saw much success.

Last year, the Capitals were supposed to turn the page. Hanlon was into his third year, and this team had nowhere to go but up.

Except they didn't. In fact they crashed and burned.

6-14-1 to be exact. And that was after starting the season 3-0-0. Management had finally seen enough and took a chance on a very successful career minor league player and coach to see if he could right the ship.

And right it he did.

The remainder of the season, the Capitals went on a torrent pace going 37-17-7 to clinch their division and a playoff spot on the final game of the regular season.

This year Boudreau is upping his game a notch going 14-9-3 despite lacking offensive talents such as Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov and highly skilled defenseman Mike Green.

In the 2003-04 season, the Capitals blueline was a revolving door which featured names from the past such as Brad Norton, John Gruden, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Todd Rohloff, Steve Eminger, Rick Berry, Jason Doig and Joel Kwiatkowski - just to name a few.

This year? Try Bryan Helmer, the AHL's leader in games played with over 800. Tyler Sloan, another career minor leauger making his rookie debut. Karl Alzner, a 20 year old rookie who leads all defensemen in ice time since his call up. And most recently Sean Collins, who will be filling in for Sloan in the Capitals next game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 25 year old Collins is just another one of the many blueliners who will get his first sniff of NHL action this year.

But yet this rag-tag bunch manages to get it done.

Yes, there is a method to Bruce's madness. Part of it is strategy, but the other part of it is an unexplainable charisma that his players seem to feed off of. One that stresses the fortune these players actually have to be playing in the NHL, and that they should not take it lightly.

"I'm not used to losing, quite frankly, and I've come to the conclusion that I really don't like it. If I'm fired up I've found out that they follow my lead pretty well and I want them to be fired up."

Bourdeau, unlike his predecessors has proven that he can ice a competitive squad, and regardless the set backs that the team faces, he'll have them ready to play.

And let's not forget that with his chubby stature and glowing cheeks, he strikes a glaring resemblance to jolly old Saint Nick, all the while bringing joy to the hearts of Capitals nation.

3 comments:

Susan said...

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Susan

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I Rock the Red said...

I absolutely adore Boudreau. He's a fantastic coach, and a good, good man. He's just what the doctor ordered for the Capitals, and I'm so glad he's here! I hope he'll continue to coach the Caps for years to come. It would be very cool if his son, Ben, who now plays for the Stingrays, could one day play for his dad for the Capitals!

TJ CAPS8 said...

Hey RTR, I guess you didn't hear but Ben got cut from South Carolina and is now playing with the Flint Generals of the IHL.

He has 1 assist and 2 PIM through 5 games.