Friday, November 22, 2013

What's Wrong With Washington?

After a red-hot start to the season, the Caps have struggled in the last two games. They got destroyed 4-0 by Pittsburgh (ugh) and were outshot 40-18, and were down 3-0 early before coming up late in a rally against Montreal today.

However, there is not much different between the teams before and after the two-game disaster. Why is this team struggling as of late?

Here are some reasons:

  1. The defense just keeps getting better (note sarcasm). I gave them a D for the first quarter, and they have not done any better. After being absolutely terribly outshot against the Penguins, they gave up a high shot amount again, outshot 31-27 against Montreal today. This is the highest priority for Adam Oates to fix, because the Caps cannot win without fixing this.
  2. The goaltending has not exactly improved. Yes, Holtby and Neuvirth faced high shot volumes the last couple of days, but a lot of the goals they gave up were soft. Against Pittsburgh, especially, the first two goals should have been easy saves for Holtby, and Neuvirth should have stopped the first goal against Montreal. It's hard to blame them, but if not for the softies, the games may have had a different outcome.
  3. The special teams has become worse. Over those last two games, the power play is 1 for 5, and the penalty kill is 6 for 8. First of all, the Caps have to stop taking so many stupid penalties. Today, especially, they took a lot of unnecessary penalties. If/when they do go on the penalty kill, the Caps have to be a bit more agressive. If their power play has taught them anything, it should be that the best way to stop a power play is to hound their players, keep them from getting looks and space. Their power play has to learn how to counteract the other team when they employ that method, because the Caps just have not been having space to pass or shoot, and that is the entire power play for Washington.
  4. CONVERT! The Caps have had some really good chances, especially early on, in the past couple games. If the caps had converted on one or two of them, they would have had the momentum and the outcome may have been different. The Caps have to be able to score on their early opportunities, or we may be seeing another few games (or more) like the last two.
Let's hope the Caps can take care of these problems and do better in the near and far future.

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