"We were a bunch of young kids coming in there just playing every night, not realizing how hard it is to win," Boudreau said. "Then when we finally got into a position where the goalie was really, really good, we couldn't handle it.
"I think these guys have learned from their mistakes in those years and I think they're much better."
Asked about that 2009-10 team before the Capitals faced the Ducks on Monday, Boudreau noted many of those promising kids have matured into standouts. But even with the experience gained by defensemen
That could change this spring. In acquiring
Williams, who won the
"To bring that type of experience to a group in Washington who has high aspirations of getting to that point and who has maybe struggled a little bit in the playoffs, he can bring that calming mind-set to a team because he's been there before and he knows what they have to do," said Ducks defenseman
"I thought it was a great pickup for them. Come playoff time he'll be a guy that can help them out a lot."
He already has. Coach Barry Trotz called Williams "fantastic" in a variety of roles and said Williams "gave us a lot of street cred with our players." Trotz added, "You could tell he's won before. He doesn't get too flustered and he knows the moments of the game that are important, and that's important for our franchise and players who are coming up."
It's not just young guys who benefit.
"He's such a good dressing-room guy, a character guy who works hard every day, that veteran presence that when he speaks, you listen," forward
"Every game he shows up to play. He plays hard, which you don't always see in veteran guys like that, especially guys that have won before," Holtby said. "The regular season is kind of go-through-the-motions sometimes. But not him. He comes in and he's battling every single battle on the ice. He's preparing before the game. That's what wins you games in the playoffs, that consistency as second nature, and he has that."
Williams, who has 19 goals and 45 points in 66 games after getting an assist in a 2-1 shootout victory over the Ducks on Monday, is too modest to take credit for the prosperity enjoyed by the Capitals, who will face the Kings on Wednesday at Staples Center. But he's doing his part to change the culture of a team known for postseason underachievement.
"From what everyone tells me it's a different vibe," he said. "Most of the other Capital teams just tried to outscore everyone else. This team can win a bunch of ways. We can win a tight-checking affair, we can win a wide-open one if we need to.
"All the ingredients are there. It's just a matter of putting it together and coming together at the right time."
With Williams' history of clutch scoring, that time could be soon.
Jonathan Drouin is back in the fold
Sanity prevailed Monday when the
The Lightning suspended him without pay Jan. 20 after the 20-year-old forward, who had requested a trade, chose not to play in an AHL game because he thought a move was imminent. When no deal materialized, he went home to the Montreal area to skate on his own. That did him no good, because he wasn't playing and learning.
According to the Tampa Tribune, Drouin reached out to General Manager