I watched the Caps game against the Ducks the other night, but really should not have waited so long to write about it.
I heard that the Caps didn't do any kind of tribute video for Boudreau, it being his first trip back since going to Anaheim, and (despite agreeing with his firing) that was a missed opportunity. Things might have gone a bit south (or south-east, I guess) at the end, but Bruce did improve the team a lot. And I think the team (especially when things went pear-shaped) improved Bruce as well.
One thing I will say about the game is that the Caps did do quite a bit better than I expected. Not only were shot totals much closer than I expected (49% FF 5v5, 48% close), but the Caps scored first (twice, even) and led for much of the game.
A bit surprisingly, they did very poorly on the power play; they scored once, but only managed two shots on five opportunities. Which says to me that Bruce's PK does a much better job preventing controlled entries than Oates' (I'm beginning to think that ~75% of killing penalties is keeping the other team from getting set up).
Washington's PK, meanwhile, allowed eight shots in four opportunities (and I believe that's even after one of the penalties was stopped without a shot. More and more, I think the Washington PK is really terrible, but that's getting masked by some really terrific goaltending.
I'm pretty much just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and for Washington's record to take the kind of turn that the Maple Leafs' has recently. The Caps have two terrific lines, one not-very-good one, and one terrible one. On the defensive side, I think Carlson and Alzner need to be together, playing the top lines. And Green and Orlov should probably play together as well, and Oleksy and Schmidt should take the remainder.
I've been giving it a bit of thought, and I think what the Caps need to do is stop passing D-to-D behind the net. It just seems to consistently bite them in the butt when they do (Oates' insistence on handedness probably exacerbates this).
Anyway, despite the game being better than most of the recent ones, it still wasn't good, and still doesn't give a lot of hope for the future. Let's hope things start improving tomorrow when the Rangers come to visit. Go Caps!