Caps Roll to Early-Season Franchise Win Record

Hey Caps fans, are you excited -- thrilled even -- that your team is now 5-0-0, the best start in franchise history?

You are? That's wonderful. Your team's coach, on the other hand, could care less.

For Bruce Boudreau, Tuesday night's 3-0 win over Florida at the Verizon Center means his team now has 10 points in standings. Nothing more. Nothing less.

"Quite frankly, when it comes to April or May, I'm not going to be able to sit here and say, 'Hey, we were 5-0. We got that record. Isn't that great?'" Boudreau said after the game. "It's not really going to hold a lot of weight. It's nice, but it's just the process of getting to where we want to get."

That continues the theme of this young season. The Caps didn't make a big deal when they raised the division banner before Game 1. And they're not making a big deal out of a string of early-season victories.

It's all just part of that process (or PRO-cess if you're Canadian) that Boudreau was referring to. He wants his team to be as prepared as possible for the NHL's second season -- i.e., the playoffs. An early winning streak isn't going to mean much if it's not helping them get ready for the more important games in the spring.

There was some good to take away from Tuesday's game. Tomas Vokoun notched his first shutout as a Cap, and the team played nearly a full 60 minutes with no letdown. The power play came through with the first goal of the game thanks to some good work by Marcus Johansson down low. Alex Semin scored, was a plus-2, took a team high four shots and didn't take a bad penalty. And the penalty kill unit was a perfect 2 for 2.

Meanwhile, Florida came into the game having played the night before against Tampa Bay, and they started Vokoun's heir apparent in net -- rookie Jacob Markstrom.

And at times, Markstrom probably had to check to see if NHL ice was different from the ice he played on in the minors last year. Because it sure seemed as if the rink was tilted most of the night.

Welcome to the NHL, kid. There will be a lot more nights like that as the season wears on.

The Panthers weren't happy with the way they played, and after the game they said they weren't going to blame tired legs.

"The energy wasn't there tonight," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "We made a promise to ourselves we aren't going to make any excuses."

The Caps, on the other hand, were pleased with their effort. They took it to the Cats early and often, outshooting Florida 11-2 in the first period, and the Panthers' two shots were from long range.

"The forwards did great tonight," defenseman Dennis Wideman said. "They got the pucks in deep. They were good on the forecheck and then when we were coming back we picked up their trailer."

Small things like that are what should make Boudreau smile instead of that franchise record for early-season wins. That type of effort is what will win more important hockey games in the playoffs.

"We just gotta keep rolling," said Jason Chimera, who iced the game with an empty net goal in the final seconds. "It's a good feeling. We haven't played the way we wanted to. Tonight was a little better. We just gotta keep on going."

Go, Caps, go.

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