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Capitals keep grinding away

Mar 5, 2012, 6:25 PM EDT

Dale Hunter Getty Images

Having been shut out the last two games, the Washington Capitals practiced paying the price today.


On every rush up the ice, players were forced to hit the brakes and stop in the goal crease in search of rebounds.

“Most goals are scored around the blue paint,” [Capitals coach Dale] Hunter said. “It’s hard work when you stop because a lot of times the puck won’t lay there and you have to skate all the way back. But most of the goals are scored on rebounds and it’s going to take an ugly goal.”

Some of the Capitals’ most talented forwards – [Alex] Ovechkin, [Alex] Semin and [Marcus] Johansson, in particular  — often are guilty of making wide turns near the goal crease instead of stopping and paying a physical price to score goals.

“You’re gonna get hit,” Hunter said. “That’s why people like the action in front of the net.”

That the coach is preaching the “drive hard to the net and stay there” message is no surprise – Hunter was never afraid to get his nose dirty during his days in the NHL.

But you do have to wonder how players like Ovechkin and Semin feel about taking scoring lessons from a guy that never broke the 30-goal mark.

Not that Hunter is wrong about going to the tough areas of the ice. It just feels like the Capitals are constantly getting lessons in lunch-pail hockey drilled into them. Maybe it’s time to encourage some creativity out there.

  1. stakex - Mar 5, 2012 at 8:01 PM

    The Caps problems are easy to solve. Drop this horrible grinding defense first hockey, and go back to the run and gun “Offense or death” hockey they played a couple years ago…. problems solved.

    The team they have right now is just never going to take to playing defensive, grinding hockey and that should come as no suprise. They were after all assembled to be a hard charging, highly skilled, offensive juggernaut.

    • jb8dale3 - Mar 6, 2012 at 2:11 AM

      go back to that offensive style of play? yea sure just to be kicked out of the first round each year in the playoffs!! ovi is a one shot wonder that the teams have figured out!! over the past few seasons for the caps have changed everything but there core players that is where the problem lies!!!

      • challer9 - Mar 6, 2012 at 10:25 AM

        “just to be kicked out of the playoffs in the first round” ….as opposed to not making the playoffs period? I agree that playing a defensive style of hockey is the way to go, but not when you assemble a team like they have. One of the basic rules in any sport is play to your strengths.

      • jb8dale3 - Mar 6, 2012 at 11:08 AM

        i just feel like they need to break that core goup of players up…whether that means semin goes or someone cause either style of play was not getting the job done

  2. sfbookreviews - Mar 6, 2012 at 12:06 AM

    If by “grinding away’ you mean stinking like a month old corpse, yes, they keep grinding away.

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