This offseason, the Caps traded for DJ King, obviously to protect the young guys who kept getting run. However, for some reason, he has not played yet.
The Thrashers, a division rival, and the Capitals have had a few good battles over the years, including in 2006 when Erskine, Brashear, and Bradley fought Hossa, Vishnevsky, and DeVries, after a deliberate cheapshot by Andy Sutton. Atlanta beefed up this summer, bringing in Byfuglien and Eager, but scratched Boulton presumably because King was scratched. This could have made for a pretty entertaining show, and maybe the Caps would have had a better chance to win had they come out swinging to start the season - instead they looked flat.
Next up, the Devils, a tough team with speed and a lot of talent. There were some late fireworks, capped off with PLLL going at Marcus Johansson. Sure, it's easy to say that Leblond had no business going at a non-fighting rookie, but it's smart to say that the rookie had no business being on the ice at the time. Especially when the Caps have the last line change.
When Leblond gets on the ice, after the three fights in rapid succession, Erskine needs to immediately be sent out also. Throw in the remaining "tough" players: Laich, Chimera, Knuble, Schultz. Maybe put Erskine on the wing and play Carlson on defense with Schultz. Give the team the best chance to stick together and protect each other. There is no excuse for putting the "next big thing" in harm's way, just to prove a point, or calm the game down a notch. The fans were loving it, the Devils weren't done and obviously weren't going to be stopping, and by putting out Johansson, Boudreau was setting a bad example and showing his glaring flaws as a head coach.
Then, against Ottawa, a team with Matt Carkner and Chris Neil, two guys who don't make their paychecks doling out tape to tape passes, King is still benched. After both Ottawa goals, King could have stepped in and taken either player off the ice for 5 minutes. Carkner, who was fourth among Senators defense in ice time, and is the only physical presence on that blue line, would more than likely oblige, and the Capitals would be better off.
The Capitals did not seem calm tonight, and were significantly outshot through regulation. The hometown team did terribly in the faceoff dot, which stalled any momentum the two regulation goals scored did provide. Two excellent justifications for a fight. Calm the team down, and build some momentum.
Boudreau obviously does not want King to protect the team, and now apparently he does not want to use him to build momentum. What will he use him for? An extra body for practice? An injury fill-in? What are you thinking, Boudreau? Do you want to keep your job? I would bet that another bad playoff push and you're done, so you might want to get your ducks in a row now and try to show other teams that you can effectively use all of the weapons at your disposal, because I hope you won't be behind the bench here much longer.