Adam Hunger/USA Today
After their powerful offensive performance last season, the Capitals have struggled with offensive inconsistencies. Among them is the power play, something that sounds strange to say and well, it should be.
Throughout the last several seasons, the Caps have been at or near the top of the league in terms of power play success. Last season, the Caps finished fifth in the NHL in power play success, after second and first place finishes, respectively, in the two seasons prior. With names like Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Carlson, Green, and Oshie playing on the man-advantage in that span, it’s not hard to see why the unit has been so successful.
Under former head coach Bruce Boudreau, the Caps finished in the Top 5 in power play percentage three times in four seasons. In former head coach Adam Oates’ two seasons as coach, the Caps finished first and second, respectively. In current head coach Barry Trotz’ first season in Washington in 2014-15, the Caps finished first in the NHL. As mentioned above, the Caps finished last season in fifth place with a percentage of 21.91%.
This season is proving to be a tough one for the Capitals offense, including the power play, and inconsistent production has been the primary challenge through the first 14 games. Despite their 9-4-1 record, the team’s power play ranks 24th with a 12.5% success rate (five goals on 40 opportunities). The units have looked slow and have been unable to move the puck effectively while in control. The Caps have heavily relied on Alex Ovechkin’s booming slapshot from the left faceoff circle in the last few years, but teams seem to have caught on to the Caps’ MO and now heavily guard Ovechkin.
It would seem that having Ovechkin draw multiple defenders to him would open up scoring chances for other players like Backstrom and Oshie. However, those players have been unable to take advantage of those chances when they come. Defenseman John Carlson has yet to score a goal this season and as the point man, it’s troubling.
With major changes to the lineup in place for the team’s next game(s), these changes could potentially be the boost the Caps’ struggling power play needs to return to its normally unstoppable form.
By Michael Fleetwood