It's never good to be the team who breaks in the opposition's coach. Usually coaches get fired thanks to a string of terrible play, and the Washington Capitals are the prime example of that. Coach Bruce Boudreau was fired yesterday despite an excellent 201-88-40 record and four consecutive Southeastern Division championships - usually won by wide margins. He'd simply lost the team. It wasn't a slump the Caps were in - no one was playing. Alex Semin found himself benched recently after a seven game silly penalty stretch. Star and captain Alexander Ovechkin had all but quit trying to even pretend to know how to play defense. In Boudreau's last game, a 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabures (who are missing nine regulars due to injury) Ovechkin and linemate Niklas Backstrom were each a -4. Both were seen ineffectively standing stock still, though Ovechkin half-heartedly lifted his stick to "defend" on one goal like Daria raised her hand to hit the volleyball.
The Capitals' terrible play and absolute lack of caring if they win or lose were making them look like easy pickin's for the Blues. St. Louis is 7-1-2 in the past ten games and shut down the last Eastern Conference team they faced, the Pittsburgh Penguins. They haven't been high scoring, but with their goaltending and defense, they haven't had to be. This's going to be difficult for new Caps coach Dale Hunter to handle. If he wants to get his scorers on track, maybe trying to do so against a team that kept Sidney Crosby off of the scoresheet during his second game back isn't the team to do so against.
Jaroslav Halak's in net tonight for the Blues, and despite the fact that Brian Elliott has been the better goaltender (10-1, 1.31 GAA, .951 SV%), fans shouldn't be concerned. Halak has performed much better as of late under Ken Hitchcock, going 2-2-2 this month with an outstanding 1.64 GAA and a .937 save percentage. In his three wins, he has a 1.00 GAA and a .955 SV%, so if he can get on a bit of a streak that will do the Blues a bit of good.
The Caps are usually a tough opponent for the Blues, with St. Louis only winning one of their last four meetings, and the Blues haven't won a stop in DC in their last three tries. Tonight, the Blues have a chance to break that streak, and keep the Caps on one they'd rather not continue with.