Monday, April 06, 2009

New Blood Can Energize

When Keith Aucoin was acquired in the off season, the Caps brass probably were thinking more of Hershey than DC. They wanted to make sure they had some back up in the wing division. What they got was a 5'8", 168 lbs. monster that has been a spark plug for the Capitals engine.

Now Aucoin is making it harder for GM George McPhee and the coaching staff to find a reason to send down the 30 year old. He has registered 5 points in five games at the NHL level. He is tied with team mate Alexandre Giroux for points in the AHL. He seems to be thriving on the aggressive system Bruce Boudreau likes to play.

"I've done everything they've asked me to do," Aucoin said. "I go out every shift and work hard. I've been rewarded the last few games. I've just got to keep doing that while I'm here."

Boudreau and McPhee have certainly taken notice of the veteran leader, even citing his play as an example to the rest of the team.

"Here's a 5-foot-7 guy, there's a reason he's leading the American league in scoring," Boudreau said. "He's 160 pounds soaking wet and he's finishing checks and winning battles against big guys. There's no reason that our other guys can't do that."

Undrafted, but never deterred, Aucoin has played a pivotal role in the last few games this season for the Capitals. It seems when something hasn't worked, Boudreau has thrown Aucoin into the mix and the ship gets righted.

Case in point, the Capitals' power play yesterday afternoon was struggling. They squandered their first four chances and the Thrashers took the lead on a shorthanded goal. Boudreau changed up the lines putting Aucoin out on the PP. From fourth line to first unit power play, Aucoin was in the right place at the right time scoring his first power play goal in the NHL off of a pretty pass from Alex Ovechkin.

From there it seemed the Caps got their spark, although it would take another period for the goals to come fast and furious. Aucoin's sharp play helped him secure the game's second star yesterday afternoon, helped the Caps secure second place in the East and gave the fans at Verizon something to cheer about in their last home game of the regular season.

Caps Notes:
  • Anointing him the "patron saint of second chances," the Toronto Star did a piece on Bruce Boudreau. The coach of the Washington Capitals gets a little recognition outside the beltway. "Authentic. Real. Raw. Not a false bone in his body. A nice guy who took no shortcuts, asked no favours, despite decades of being handed the short end of the stick."
  • Viktor Kozlov's play of late is nothing to write home about. He has only 2 assists and is a minus 4 in his last six games. Asked if the forward is nursing injuries and team officials clamp up. Whatever the reason, it's not where the Kozlov would like to be this time of the year, struggling.
  • Speaking of the Southeast Division, the Florida Panthers just pulled out a monster game against Pittsburgh. The win will go a long way in trying to secure a playoff spot now that they are tied with the Rangers. More importantly, they kept Evgeni Malkin off the scoresheet, allowing Ovi's two assists pull him closer to the points lead.

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