The St. Louis Blues made a coaching change early in the month that provided a spark to a struggling team.
The Washington Capitals hope their bold move has the same result.
Washington fired Bruce Boudreau after four seasons Monday, and new coach Dale Hunter will make his NHL debut Tuesday night when the Capitals host the surging Blues.
Boudreau guided Washington to four straight Southeast Division crowns and became the fastest coach to 200 regular-season victories in modern NHL history with 4-3 overtime win over Phoenix on Nov. 21.
The Capitals, though, went 17-20 in the postseason during Boudreau's tenure and failed to get past the second round. Washington (12-9-1) has gone 5-9-1 after opening the season with seven straight victories, and a listless effort in a 5-1 loss to Buffalo on Saturday seemed to seal Boudreau's fate.
"This wasn't a slump. You can ride out slumps," vice president and general manager George McPhee said. "This was a case of players were no longer responding...