We have seen dismal hockey to say the least in the first six contests for the Washington Capitals. What would you expect from a squad that is currently 1-4-1?
The main reason as to why the Capitals simply haven’t been able to close out victories or even get ahead early on their opponents is because they have failed to finish in several aspects.
John Carlson and Alexander Ovechkin have been guilty of this primarily. Far too often, you’ll notice Ovechkin slacking off toward the end of his shift, especially when he is required to skate back on the defensive end or play an aggressive fore-check on the back two skaters. Ovechkin, as with the rest of the team, hasn’t been taking advantage of quality scoring opportunities and instead tries to do everything himself, on a line that also features Jay Beagle and Joey Crabb. The captain has a tendency, like in years past, to try and take over the game by making one move and if it fails, he gives up on the shift. Carlson has been the same way on the defensive end. Carlson has been caught guessing at times this season as to where the opposing offense is going to take the puck and pepper shots on net. His inability to display patience against top attackers has punished the Capitals this season and will not make the goaltenders’ jobs any easier. The other stigma the Capitals have faced this season has been that they are still too passive on shifts. Not enough shots are taken on the power play or on full strength shifts as well. Pepper the goalie… you never know what could happen– see the Erskine goal in win against Buffalo.
Look, I get that the Capitals aren’t a very physically imposing team. Aside from John Erskine & Matt Hendricks, there isn’t really anyone that will strike fear into an opponent’s eye as far as the physical game. Ovechkin has a few nice hits from time to time, but those have been few and far between as he gets caught leaving the ice and missing his target completely. There have been aggressive players like a Crabb or Jason Chimera that have shown flashes in this physical department, but the main reason as to why this team isn’t lighting up the shot category on offense is they are being out-muscled and grow tired are periods wear on.
Tuesday night’s contest versus Ottawa was a tell-tale sign that this team isn’t fully acclimated to the guys that are around them, nor are they fully adjusted to head coach Adam Oates’ style of play just yet. Giving up three unanswered goals is UNTHINKABLE on all counts of the game. Offensively, the Capitals couldn’t provide just one more insurance goal, especially because this new age NHL features offense more so than in years past. Defensively, there were simply too many opportunities for the Senators and they were able to take advantage of them. Silly penalties and a lack of finishing special teams shifts ultimately defeated the Capitals Tuesday. Michael Neuvirth was solid throughout and has been a pleasant surprise as he will make his fifth consecutive start, but he nor Braden Holtby have given Oates a clear sign as to who the starting goaltender of this team will be moving forward.