Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images
The Capitals have struggled in the state of Arizona for over decade, not winning a game in regulation since 2006 (yep, THE game). Last night was no different. It’s just one of those streaks that’s difficult to explain. Here are four areas were the Capitals fell short in last night’s game against the Coyotes.
Start Fast – The Capitals were looking to start fast in this one, hoping to dampen or even extinguish hope in the hometown Coyotes, the youngest team in the league, who had lost seven straight games entering the contest. But the Caps couldn’t get it done. The Caps were outshot 3-0 for the first 10 minutes of play, with Philipp Grubauer making three stellar saves in the early going to keep the game scoreless. Lars Eller did ring one off the crossbar in the first three minutes. The Coyotes deserve some credit, as they played a very disciplined defense in the early going, allowing no break-aways or odd-man rushes.
Special Teams – Both the power play and penalty kill were far below par on Friday night. The Coyotes were a woeful 4 for 52 on the man-advantage on home ice, coming into the game, and yet the Capitals penalty kill would falter, giving up a goal. The Capitals power play was worse, generating very few opportunities and even fewer shots and scoring chances with their two power play opportunities. They registered just a single shot on goal during the man advantage.
Shooting – The Capitals have been at the bottom of the league in shot-attempts per-game all season and Friday night was no different as the Capitals registered just 17 shots on goal for the game (15 shots at 5-on-5). The Caps registered just two shots on goal for the first period, both by defensemen (Djoos and Carlson). But that’s not the worst of it. The Capitals shot accuracy against the Coyotes was horrendous. The Capitals totaled 52 shot attempts for the game (at 5-on-5), with a majority of the shots way-off target (Off target = CF – SOG). It was eye-popping how bad some of the shots were. Uncontested shots missing the goal by several feet. It seemed like it was “pad your Corsi stats” night in Glendale. Hard to explain this one.
Overtime – The Capitals effort in extra time was lackluster at best. The Coyotes outshot the Capitals 6-1 for the extra frame, with a majority of play in the Capitals zone. It felt like it was just a matter of time before the Coyotes would win it, and they did.
Luckily the Caps don’t have much time to stew on this one, as they are right back at it tonight when they visit Sin City for the first time in franchise history. They will take on a well-rested Knights team, who haven’t played since Tuesday night. Puck drop tonight is 8:00 PM EST.
By Jon Sorensen