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Caps coach Boudreau still on the hot seat

The Capitals on Sunday finally snapped their awful losing skid at eight games. The 3-2 win over the Senators turned down the heat on Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau a few degrees, but his status as coach of one of the NHL's most skilled squads is still in serious jeopardy.

Washington has experienced a great deal of regular-season success since Boudreau took over for Glen Hanlon three years ago. The Capitals have won three straight Southeast Division titles, and last season they claimed the President's Trophy with the league's best regular-season record.

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Led by Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals are one of a handful of marquee teams in the NHL, which is why they were selected to play in the 2011 Winter Classic (and why Boudreau has been criticized for making Rex Ryan look like Tony Dungy on HBO's "24/7" series which is covering the Classic).

But you can't help but wonder if Boudreau has the chops to deliver a Stanley Cup to D.C.

The Capitals are way too talented to drop eight games in a row, but their brutal December funk isn't the only reason I'm left wondering about Boudreau. However, the losing streak did echo the same criticisms that I had of this Capitals team in this past, and the buck stops at Boudreau, of course.

Too often going through the motions, the Capitals just aren't that committed to the defensive end of the rink. Sure, it's not Boudreau's fault the Capitals lack defensive-oriented players on the back end. But there is no accountability there. And when the offenses disappears -- like we saw during the losing streak and during the playoff loss to the Canadiens last April -- they are pretty much screwed.

Despite the unprecedented access on "24/7", we don't really know what's going on in that locker room. Boudreau has probably been beating his head against the wall. He knows he's on the hot seat with the Capitals expected to contend for the Cup. Maybe the taste of victory will snap the Caps out of their funk.

If not, it could take a coaching change and a new voice screaming in their ears at practice.

The NHL is the one league where making a midseason coaching change can spark a team to a title. We saw that as recently as 2008-09 when the Penguins axed Michel Therrien with two months left in the regular season and replaced him with Dan Bylsma. Sure, that because the Penguins were in danger of missing the playoffs, but you can argue the Capitals are just as desperate now.

We're going to learn a lot about the Capitals over the next couple of weeks. If they keeping fighting and turn things around in a hurry, then it will show they haven't tuned Boudreau out. And if that's the case, he deserves one more crack at leading the Capitals to a Stanley Cup.

But if they keep sputtering, I think we all know what has to happen.

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