This was one of those games that you usually see at the end of long road trips. A team that looks a little out of gas, a team that is banged up, and as a result gets run out of the building. This wasn’t the end of a road trip, it was the beginning. The Capitals started off their western Canada road trip with a 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
It’s no secret, this Capitals team is not as deep as they have been in previous seasons. And the depth, or lack thereof, is getting tested early. On Thursday night the Capitals were without key defenseman Matt Niskanen, Andre Burakovsky who is now out 6-8 weeks, Nicklas Backstrom, who missed this game due to illness and Brett Connolly, who left the game halfway through. Two key players, four lineup regulars all out.
The Capitals are still not really getting contributions throughout the lineup. However Evgeny Kuznetsov got his first goal of the season as did Chandler Stephenson who netted the first of his career.
On to the stats.
The Capitals won the Corsi battle tonight, though as you can see, a lot of the difference was in the third period when this game was already over for the most part.
This could be a good time to break out the score adjusted Corsi. While 5v5 the Capitals out attempted Vancouver 22-9 in the third period. If you adjust that it says the game was more even with attempts around 10-10. The game ended 40-35 in the Capitals favor when score adjusted.
It can be a tricky game to analyze. You can see the Capitals did get into the scoring areas. After a slow start I thought the Capitals played pretty good offensively. They hit a couple of posts and scored a couple of goals. The problem was by time they woke up offensively the game was three or four to zero. They have to clean up their own zone without a doubt.
Not too much to say for individuals tonight. I will say, I didn’t think Orlov had a great night. I didn’t think he was that noticeable on the attack and coughed up the puck several times in his own zone, with one of those mistakes ending in a goal against.
Kuznetsov on the other hand I thought played well. He looked dangerous and scored his first goal tonight.
Corsi will never tell you who had a great game. It just tells you what end of the rink they played in for the game. Tonight I think points that out. Orlov and Kuznetsov might have played in the right or wrong zone but I think their games were better or worse than their possession stats.
Faceoffs were a little weak tonight. Vancouver ended up winning 56% of the draws. The only zone the Capitals were over 50% was the neutral zone where they were 52%. They won just 32% of the offensive zone draws and 47% of the D zone draws.
The guys to point out. Kuznetsov who usually hangs around the 30% area won almost 50% of his draws tonight. Lars Eller who is around 57% for the season had a bad night.
Other faceoff takers:
T.J. Oshie: 2 of 3
Alex Chiasson: 0 of 1
I thought Braden Holtby was up and down tonight. I thought he made some good saves early when the game was close but made some weird plays that ended in goals. Two goals where maybe the puck was deflected but he lost track of the puck. Didn’t think he was great but neither was the entire team so can’t blame him really. Grubauer wasn’t really that busy, he only faced 8 shots in 25 minutes.
Special teams were clearly won by the Canucks tonight. The Capitals power play came up empty in three attempts and the Canucks scored 3 power play goals in 6 tries. The Capitals penalty kill is now 20/31 after killing 13/14 early in the season. For people who like to see things in percentages that’s 64.5%.
Definitely a disappointing way to start a road trip. The Canucks are playing well but they are surely the weakest team the Caps will face on this trip. The next two teams had big expectations coming into the season and both have good teams. First up, the Edmonton Oilers and Connor McDavid on Saturday night.
By CJ Witt
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