The Capitals have a lot to lament after Wednesday’s 4-1 defeat in Edmonton. They’re still not scoring. The special teams are still struggling. And the second periods, well, they haven’t been great.
But it has also become clear what’s irking Coach Barry Trotz the most. And it’s not poor execution.
“We've got the right elements to do what we can do. But there has to be a level of everybody [being] all in. You can’t be half in. I know there’s a lot of games in the regular season. But there’s a lot good teams, and we saw a good one tonight in the Edmonton Oilers. They played very well. You can’t let your foot off the gas in this league or you find yourself in a hole sometimes.”
It’s not hard to decipher what Trotz is getting at. He wants better focus and commitment from certain individuals as the team heads to Vancouver for a Saturday night meeting with the Canucks.
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Once a week this season, we’re going to take a closer look at the numbers and point out a trends that every Capital fan should know about.
By his own admission, the Capitals’ captain hasn’t been perfect. But he’s doing something no one else has managed: he’s scoring consistently. In fact, Ovechkin has tallied in four consecutive contests after going pointless in the first two. It’s Ovi’s longest goal streak since Feb. 7-13 of last season (also four games).
The rookie is still looking for his first goal. But he’s been dangerous around the next in each of the Capitals’ last two games. The Oilers' Cam Talbot absolutely robbed Sanford with a splendid pad save midway through the second period on Wednesday. Hunch here is that he’ll get one sooner rather than later.
Blue line point production
The Capitals’ offensive punch (or lack thereof) has been a storyline through the first six games. In fact, they have mustered only 14 goals, which is tied for 26th entering Thursday’s games. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but this much is also clear: the defensemen are doing more than their fair share. All six of them have recorded at least one assist, and Matt Niskanen has a team-leading four helpers after picking up the primary on Ovi’s goal Wednesday night.
A top-five unit a year ago, the Capitals’ power play has fallen on hard times so far this season. In fact, it’s all the way down in 28th, having connected on just two of 19 opportunities. The two goals, by the way, came against a tired Avalanche team. The unit has gone 0 for 6 since.
This was a top-two unit a year ago, and it’s now scuffling (statistically, at least) as much as the power play. It’s given up a goal in five of the first six games, including one in Edmonton, and is burried in 25th place (72.2-percent). Coach Barry Trotz pointed out Wednesday night that it’s a small sample size, but he also noted that the unit can do a better job of blocking shots, filling lanes and coming up with critical saves at big moments.
The fourth liner is the only Capital who’s suited up for all six games but is still looking for his first point. Sanford and Brett Connolly also have goose eggs, but they’ve played in four and two games, respectively. It’s time for Wilson to get on the board.
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