Deep Depth Drubs DucksPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Last night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks marked the fifth time in 10 nights that Washington has faced an opponent on shorter rest than the Capitals have had. It was the fifth time they’ve defeated that less-rested opponent. The Ducks started out the season 4-1 but left town with a 1-3-1 mark on the trip and have two games left on that two-week journey. The Caps had the previous two days off – although they spent one of them on an airplane flying back from Vancouver – while Anaheim was playing its third game in four nights. Perhaps the primary reason the Caps have been able to take advantage of fatigued foes is their depth. Washington is one of just two teams in the league (Philadelphia is the other) that has a dozen players with five or more points this season. Washington is also one of just three teams that does not have multiple forwards averaging less than 10 minutes a night this season. The Caps’ lone forward who is averaging less than 10 minutes a tilt is D.J. King (6:58) who has only played in one game thus far. In the aftermath of last night’s 5-4 comeback win – the Caps were down 3-0 at one point – over the Ducks, many players I spoke with after attributed the win to Washington’s ability to roll its four lines all night while road-weary Anaheim continued to tax its top lines and top pairs with heavy ice time burdens. I had a chat with a long-tenured pro scout recently, one who has been working at his trade for many years and who was a prominent NHL player for years before that. My question to him was about the quality of play in the NHL, and whether he thought it might be better now than at any point in the last couple decades, since we’re so far removed from the last gratuitous expansion these days. His answer was interesting, and it culminated with some kind words on the 2011-12 Capitals’ depth: “You have to come out of the gate quickly, and it used to be your playoff push came around the first of March. I think last year, the playoff push began around January 1, and teams had to start laying it on the line every night. “There used to be some easy games. There used to be some weaker teams. There aren’t many weaker teams anymore; most every game is pretty competitive, which is what the league wants. They want parity. “Every once in a while you have a team like Pittsburgh that drafts [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin or here where they have [Alex] Ovechkin, [Alexander] Semin, [Mike] Green and [Nicklas] Backstrom. You have to be really bad for a few years, and then you have to be lucky the years that you’re drafting high that the great quality young players are out there, players that you can build a franchise around. Pittsburgh and Washington are two of the teams that have done it. “When you do that and if you can get your salary structures right, you can build and have a strong team for a lot of years. This year, I think the Caps are as good and as deep as I’ve ever seen them as an organization. “To me, the strength Detroit has had for all these years has always been their depth. When I see a team like the Caps that can ice four good lines, they’ve got seven quality defensemen that can play, a couple goalies. If they stay healthy and things are in the right place and they get breaks, this might be the right year for them to break through.” We’ve got a long way to go before we find out, but 8-2 is a good start.
Caps coach Bruce Boudreau put together an interesting forward trio for Thursday’s practice prior to his team’s departure for a two-game weekend road trip. The line consisted of center Marcus Johansson flanked by Cody Eakin on the left and Mathieu Perreault on the right. Aside from the notable fact