It was not a kind week for the Washington Capitals. After losing defenseman Matt Niskanen to injury for some time, the defensive core is still trying to gel with new players in various roles. In addition to the shaky defense, the Capitals have had a few players that are off to slow starts.
The road ahead does not get any easier for the Capitals. Over the weekend, the Capitals will hit the road to Detroit and come back home briefly for a game against the Florida Panthers. Once they conclude this weekend doubleheader, they will head out West and play Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary.
For the Capitals to have success throughout the weekend and into next week, the Capitals must make some adjustments, and must receive more contributions from various players.
Let’s dive in to some of the Capitals current issues, and things that need adjustments:
LIMITING THE TURNOVERS AND GIVEAWAYS
The Capitals had 12 giveaways against Toronto, and 11 giveaways against Philadelphia. Teams like Toronto that have a good transition game will make teams pay for turning the puck over. More turnovers and giveaways usually leads to more time spent in the defensive zone.
MORE “O” FROM THE “D”
Through 7 games, the Capitals defensive core has only registered 1 goal. That goal came from Christian Djoos in the game versus Pittsburgh. If the Capitals are going to have success, more offense is needed from their blueliners. John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov need to find ways to get on the scoresheet more often.
ADDITIONAL SECONDARY SCORING AND SHOOTING THE PUCK
Through the first 7 games, the Capitals are only averaging 25.7 shots per game. That is ranked 31st in the NHL. Right now, the top 5 teams in the NHL in the shots forced category are averaging 35 shots or more per game.
Barry Trotz has taken notice to this and has placed Andre Burakovsky on the 3rd line for the next Capitals game, with hopes that this will give him a shooting spark. The Capitals need Burakovsky and others to manufacture more shots on goal. The Capitals have played too much of a “perimeter” game in their last couple of outings.
LIMITING THE SHOTS AGAINST
The Capitals are not shooting the puck enough, and they are not preventing shots good enough. They are giving up an average of 33.9 shots per game. This number needs to drastically come down as the season progresses. Limiting the number of turnovers will help the shots against number trickle down too.
MORE 4TH LINE PRODUCTION
The Capitals players that regularly play on the 4th line – Jay Beagle, Devante Smith-Pelly, Alex Chiasson, and Tyler Graovac – none of them have scored a goal yet this season. Over the last number of years, the Capitals have had one of the strongest 4th lines in the NHL. The Capitals need this additional scoring in their lineup so their offensive attack is better balanced.
By: George Foussekis