There’s no doubt the Capitals special teams has been struggling this season. Ranked in the bottom 5 in penalty kill and in the bottom half on the powerplay, they are nowhere near what they were last season. “That was one our identities last year.” Lars Eller said after the game Monday night versus the Arizona Coyotes, “There’s no reason we shouldn’t be that this year too.” The poor special teams has already cost them 2 games.
Against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals went 3/6 on the penalty kill and 0/4 on their power play. Then ten days later the Capitals went 4/6 on the penalty kill and 0/4 on the power play. Even though the boys in Red had the 5v5 play in those games their special teams cost them.
But Monday night against the Arizona Coyotes, the Capitals special teams came through for a 3-2 overtime win. The power play went 1/6 while the penalty kill was a perfect 3/3. Granted it was against the Coyotes, who are bottom 10 in both categories, it’s still a good pick up.
The night didn’t start out great though. Through half the game the Capitals were 0/3 on the power play with a couple of the chances being straight ugly. But finally on the 4th power play chance, the Captain came through with his patented one timer.
“Thought we were little more sloppy than the last few games but we’re doing a lot of great things.” John Carlson stated, who placed the perfect pass on Ovechkin’s stick. “It’s a matter of sticking to it and seeing some pucks go in and building momentum that way.”
But the best part of the game came late in the 3rd period with the game tied the Capitals went on the penalty kill. They needed a big kill and got it. “It was really big for us, it was a key moment of the game.” Eller iterated, “That was a big moment for us.” After the game head coach Barry Trotz mention that the power play goal was “timely”, but one could argue that that penalty kill was probably bigger.
Though the Capitals only converted on 1 power play chance out of 6 against a poor penalty killing team, it’s a start. Asked if it would have been bad if the Capitals lost the game without converting on any of the 6 power plays, Carlson responded, “Yeah, but we didn’t.”
By Luke Adomanis