Bruce Boudreau has tightened down the Washington Capital’s loose play this year. Loose play which has historically haunted the Caps during the playoffs. In many ways, the Caps have taken well to a more structured system.
Entering into Saturday’s game against the LA Kings, the Caps have some impressive defensive stats: PK – ranked 2nd (86.4%), GAA – 5th (2.38), wins – ranked 11th (29). Wait a second… PK 2nd, and GAA 5th, but wins 11th? Three teams rank in the top 5, in the NHL, in both categories (PK, GAA): Pittsburgh, Nashville, Vancouver. Here’s the issue - Vancouver and Pittsburgh are rank 2nd and 3rd in WINS!
So where are the Caps falling short in Boudreau’s new system? One eye popping stat – the Caps have 10 Over Time losses. The highest in the NHL. For the Caps to make a Stanley Cup run, the tightly played games are “must wins” in this new system. 10 OT losses means the system hasn’t worked… yet.
Case in point is tonight’s 4-1 loss to the streaking LA Kings (points in 8 straight games). The Caps took an early lead, as Alex Ovechkin fired a laser from the off wing, as he dipped inside on the rush. However, system break downs cost the Caps points today as their top defensive line of Mike Green and Jeff Shultz were -3. These two defensive leaders trailed plays, missed checks, and didn’t support one another the entire game. At times, they had little coordination together. Both looked sluggish…
In the second period, Green didn’t stay with his man on a guick pass, as he lost position on the goal side. Eventually, Anze Kopitar flipped home the King’s first goal, to tie the game at 1-1. In the third period, Green stayed way too flat at the blue line, allowing the King’s Kyle Clifford to split he and Shultz. This poor defensive suppport allowed Clifford to walk in cleanly, and led to Andrei Luktionov banging home an easy rebound. The center of the ice was wide open, with no one back checking - evidence the “system” isn’t working. Goals shouldn’t happen this easily in the NHL.
To add insult to injury, Wayne Simmonds undressed Shultz down the right wing, and dangled to get a weak shot in through traffic. His hard rush to the net was enough pressure to lead to a goal for LA, as Michal Handzus took his time (had time to whiff twice) and knocked home LA’s 3rd goal of the day. Jarret Stoll finished the scoring for the Kings.
The Caps head out west for a five game road trip, and play Monday in Phoenix. Here’s to some warmer weather! I bet it’s just what the “System” needs, to get back on track!
About the Author
Written by Dennis Patchett
Huge NHL and soccer fan! Love Columbus, Ohio sports! Buckeyes, Crew, Blue Jackets! Also, the Washington Capitals are my new adopted NHL team!