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Oh, what a difference a day makes. After Saturday night’s debacle of a loss to the Sabres, the Capitals made an abrupt rebound and routed the Rangers 5-2 on Sunday night. Justin Williams tallied a hat trick and Mike Richards was just phenomenal at the dot. Justin Williams explained the turnaround this way, “When you throw a stinker out there, you want to redeem yourself and lucky for us we were able to do it the next night”.
Williams, who scored his second career hat trick last night against the Rangers, joined the team this past July from the LA Kings. Since then, he has proven himself a leader in both the locker room and on the ice. Line mate Andre Burakovsky says that Williams is really a help to him and Evengy Kuznetsov, “He’s one of the key guys in the line. He’s so smart out there.” Williams who scored his third goal on an empty-netter chuckled at the unique way he earned his hat trick. His first career hat trick was in 2006 while playing for the Carolina Hurricanes against the San Jose Sharks.
Mike Richards has now played in back-to-back games since signing with the team on January 6th, and he’s doing just fine. In fact, against the Rangers on Sunday night he won 14 of 20 face-offs. Coach Barry Trotz was definitely pleased, “Here’s a guy who hasn’t played for basically eight months and he’s 14 for 20 against some pretty good people out there”.
With all the lines firing, Trotz is in the enviable position to drive how the Capitals play the game. To Trotz this means that he has the capability to customize his lines based on the opponent. For example, Sunday night he used Brooks Laich and Stanislav Galiev on the fourth line because he felt the team would need some more speed. With the current players on the roster, he will continue to have that flexibility. “Whoever we’re playing, we’ll be add some pieces,” he said of his strategy.
It seems that the planks for a successful season are completely in place for the Capitals as they travel to Columbus on Tuesday to take on the Blue Jackets in the final match-up of the series.
By Stephanie Judge