Posted: Friday November 23, 2007 1:38PM; Updated: Friday November 23, 2007 2:32PM
So change was inevitable, and not just to stop the bleeding. Because as much as this move was about providing some sort of spark for the team and giving hope to a disenchanted fan base, it is also meant to send a message to Alexander Ovechkin that the franchise has its head on straight. The superstar winger becomes a restricted free agent after this season, and the Caps will have to show him they're just as serious about winning as they are about showering him with cash if they want him to spurn the advances of what could be a long line of suitors.
That puts a lot of pressure on Boudreau to show progress, if not work a miracle with a lineup that looks frighteningly thin and awkwardly constructed despite being three seasons into McPhee's rebuilding effort. Boudreau will certainly bring a more demanding style to the rink than the one employed by Hanlon, who is a more reserved individual.
The boys will always know their coach is there now, but it'll take more than emotional leadership to sort through this mess. Figuring out what to do with Nicklas Backstrom will be a priority. Noted as the most NHL-ready player when he was drafted fourth overall in 2006, Backstrom still doesn't look ready for prime time. Semin continues to struggle with an ankle injury, a situation that severely limits Boudreau's offensive options. And Boudreau has to prepare for the inevitable meltdowns that come with a blueline that relies so heavily on Poti, Brian Pothier, Milan Jurcina and Jeff Schultz.
So you got your wish, Caps fans. Since your last chant worked so well, you might want to start one for that miracle now.
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