The Washington Capitals are finding a killer instinct.
Tonight they demolished a talented, young Islanders squad in New York, 7-2, and raised their season long winning streak to seven games.
Not the greatest opponent, but it was a mental test the Caps passed this evening after struggling with the Islanders during all 3 previous meetings this season. The Capitals beat the Islanders 3-2 in OT (10/24/09), lost 4-3 in OT (10/30/09), and won 5-4 in a shoot-out (11/11/09). This is a team the Capitals are expected to beat, and should beat soundly. Tonight they did and seemed confident and having fun without being cocky.
After an intense week with wins over the Flyers, Penguins, Red Wings and Coyotes, this trip to Long Island could have been a trap. But head coach Bruce Boudreau and captain Alex Ovechkin led an inspired charge and the Capitals not only knocked their opponent to the ground early, they put their foot to the throat and didn’t relent. Clean and sportsmanlike, but tactical, vicious and unforgiving, with an intensity that screamed a warning across rinks in the US and Canada.
The Islanders announcers talked about how talented the Capitals are. Then they mentioned how big they are and how in awe the young Islanders appeared even though it was the fourth match-up between the teams this season. But this is a different team already. Left wing Jason Chimera is getting better situated with his new teammates, after GM George McPhee swung a genious deal for him well before the March 3rd trade deadline. And Ovechkin not only has an “S” on his chest, but is also now wearing the “C” like a grizzled veteran who completely understands what it means to carry that honorable weight.
Would I be excited to see McPhee add another battle-tested grinder who has proven himself in the playoffs before? Yes, I would. But if this is the real Washington Capitals that we will see during the playoffs, I’m getting that much more comfortable and excited with what is already in the cupboard he, his staff, and owner Ted Leonsis stocked.