To me, the Washington Capitals look like a different team - or are starting to, at least.
Watching them skate to a 3-1 victory in the Winter Classic, I was left with the following impressions:
Simeyon Varlamov came to play - Varly made a statement to Bruce Boudreau that he can play in a big game. Under the bright lights with almost 70,000 and with 4.5 million TV viewers, Varlamov was tested often and seemed to be able find the puck better than Marc-Andre Fleury under the sub-par conditions at Heinz Field.
Perreault is great energy player for the Caps - Mathieu Perreault finishes his checks, gets pucks deep, and can contribute offensively. He seems like he's bought into Boudreau's system.
Ovi starting to play like Ovi - For those who are starting to wonder if Ovechkin has lost a step, keep in mind, he's won every individual award but his ultimate goal is the Stanley Cup. He's learning to be a better all around hockey player which will silence his critics in the playoffs. But, my god, take him off the point on the PP. He's so much more dangerous when he's on the wing and can be more mobile. When he's on the point, penalty-killers just get into his shooting lane. Maybe Boudreau is saving that for the playoffs as well?
Mike Green played very physically - especially against Jordan Staal. It's nice to see Green playing this way but can his body keep up with that level of physicality.
Speaking of Jordan Staal - Pit should be scaring teams even more now with Staal back in the lineup.
Alex Semin - When I saw the condition of the ice, I, and probably many, felt it favored the Penguins style of play rather than the usual flashy Captials' transition game. I was proved wrong as the Caps really worked on getting the puck north and deep behind the Penguins defense. Alex Semin looked like the odd man out in that style of play, which isn't surprising, but if Washington plays that type of game more frequently, Semin could find himself on the trading-block as the deadline approaches.