For Caps on power play, it's pick your poison

For Caps on power play, it's pick your poison
October 21, 2013, 6:00 pm
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Caps top 5 plays of the week: 10.21.13

After leading the NHL with a 26.8 percent success rate on power plays last season, the Capitals once again find themselves atop the league in 2013-14 with a 33 PP% through eight games. As the sample size grows larger, it becomes more and more clear something about Adam Oates’ system just plain works with the man advantage.

Alex Ovechkin is again the biggest beneficiary of the Capitals’ special teams as he’s tied for the NHL lead with four power play goals. He led the league last year with 16.

Both Oates and Ovechkin have seen teams approach the Caps’ differently when trying to kill penalties, mainly trying to take the Great 8 out of the equation. But with Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer on hand, that task is easier said than done. 

“They just stay in front of me and don’t give me opportunities to shoot the puck,” Ovechkin said. “But they do like that and I see Ward or Brouwer in the middle and those guys can score and they’re gonna score.”

If it sounds like Ovechkin is confident, it’s because he is. Their approach to the power play keeps working and he’s happy to cash in.

“Teams are going to play against me and my line a little harder than usual because they know we can score and we can produce some points.”

Oates knows the Capitals are hard to stop on the power play and is proactive when it comes to opponents’ tactics to stop it. He has noticed different strategies night in and night out, but it usually comes back to Ovechkin.

“When teams set up with a very good power play, it’s difficult,” he said. 

“Every team has their own little niche. There are teams that have tried to take away Ovi, but it’s very difficult to do because that exposes Brouwer or Wardo in the middle or it gets us a really good quality point shot.”

Ward already has two power play goals on the year after having just one last season, and Brouwer scored one in their Oct. 14 win over Edmonton. With Ovechkin leading the way, Oates has three big bodies to work with on the power play and so far it’s working out well for Washington.