As the Caps and Penguins battled into overtime on Wednesday, the key moment came when Caps defenseman Mike Weber could not corral the puck in front of the net and tipped it right to Patric Hornqvist who slipped it between Braden Holtby's legs for the game-winning goal.
It's a moment that will be tough for him to live down in Washington, but not one that was entirely his fault, according to head coach Barry Trotz.
"We lost point coverage and then sort of hell breaks loose little bit," Trotz said, "and everybody's diving around and trying to sort that out and then the puck goes to Webs and it sort of gets in that little triangle that's hard to control. He was just trying to get the puck out of the way so I don't blame that on Weber at all."
On the play, all five Caps were initially caught below the faceoff circle in the defensive zone. That left Trevor Daley open as he came in from the blue line and Sidney Crosby found him with a pass from behind the net. At this point, the Caps are scrambling. A nice sweep check sends the puck back to the blue line where it eventually ends up on the stick of a wide open Conor Sheary. Seeing that he's open, both Tom Wilson and Weber step to him, but Weber begins to back off. Now the left side of the ice is completely open. He blocks Sheary's shot, but loses control of it and tips it in desperation, sending it to the left to an open Hornqvist.
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So while Weber ends up looking like the goat, really no one was where they were supposed to be which started the play.
"He’ll bounce back," Jay Beagle said. "There are so many plays that happen that nothing is ever an individual’s fault. It’s never like that. He’s a warrior and a great player for us and little things happen like that."
Weber was playing in only his second game of the postseason and first of the series. He skated in place of Nate Schmidt who was scratched after a poor Game 3.
Once thought to be a strength, the Caps' defensive depth has been put to the test in the playoffs and the results have not been good. Dmitry Orlov was benched in Game 1 against Pittsburgh after a poor defensive play turned into a goal and scratched for Game 2. The suspension to Brooks Orpik forced Orlov back into the lineup along with Taylor Chorney and Trotz mixed things up again for Game 4 by inserting Weber.
When asked on Thursday if he wished there was more consistency from the bottom four defensemen, Trotz answered, "Yeah, you would or we wouldn't be moving them out."
Wednesday's play may have looked like a one-way ticket back to the press box for Weber, but given Trotz's analysis of the play, that may not necessarily be the case. In fact, Trotz remains ademant that inserting Weber into the lineup for Game 4 was the right move.
"We have no doubt that that was the right decision," Trotz said. "It was unfortunate on that play but if you really dissect that play down, Webb's really not the guy."
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