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Laich on Caps: “I think we’re tougher to play against”

Jan 18, 2012, 3:24 PM EDT

Brooks Laich Getty Images

When the Washington Capitals fired coach Bruce Boudreau, the team was 12-9-1. Since the hiring of Dale Hunter, the team is…12-9-1.

That statistical tidbit courtesy CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley, who’s understandably wondering if the Caps are any different under their new bench boss.

One player that believes things have changed for the better is forward Brooks Laich.

“I think we’re tougher to play against,” Laich said. “I think we don’t give up the easy goals and glorious scoring chances we did before. Odd-man rushes was the first thing he said he wanted to correct. Teams have to go through three, four five guys to score on us. We’re blocking more shots. Shift lengths are shorter.”

Hunter concurs: “You see how many shots we’re blocking. That’s caring about winning and losing. That’s how you win games. When you block 20 shots a game, that’s 20 less pucks going to the net that could go in.

“That’s a big thing, and the puck hurts. Guys shoot the puck hard, and when you go down to block, that’s a commitment to win. If you block shots, you’re going to reward guys. Everybody rates their games on goals and assists, but you’ve got to also rate them on back-checking hard, blocking shots, finishing hits.”

The Caps had won three straight before yesterday when they were shut out on home ice, 3-0, by the Islanders.

Washington managed just 17 shots on Evgeni Nabokov last night, just seven of them in the third period when they were trailing and should’ve theoretically been pushing the play.

But hey, 13 blocked shots.

(The Isles had 18.)

  1. kantnockdahustle89 - Jan 18, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    When you spend the entire game in your own end you are going to blow shots weather you like it or not Brooks. I dont know how you are tougher to play against by making hits and blocking shots. Usually teams think you are tough when you score more goals than them which is not the case. Once you figure out how to do all three…then you are tougher to play against.

  2. jpelle82 - Jan 18, 2012 at 4:41 PM

    i think they were tougher to play against a long couple years ago when they were scoring 5, 6, 7 goals every night. everybody plays tough and blocks shots in the nhl…thats a given…teams dont go into washington thinking, “oh no, these guys block a lot of shots and have shorter shifts on their bench, we better bring our A-game tonight”.

    • danphipps01 - Jan 18, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      No kidding. Especially since, you know, Nashville, St. Louis and Boston pretty much have the market cornered on strangling defense.

  3. wschopp - Jan 19, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    If the Caps want to be tougher to play against, perhaps they should go with a new plan. Stop firing coaches, and start finding players that want to play hard instead of whining and trying to convince everyone how good they are. Just shut up and play the game.

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