Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
After back-to-back regulation losses to Pittsburgh and Vegas, the Capitals are looking for answers to get back on the winning track. In the recent losses, the Capitals defensive performance has been subpar, and not common for a Barry Trotz-coached team. With the trade deadline looming, teams are jockeying for position in the standings. On Tuesday night, the Capitals will face the pesky Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Their second matchup will take place on Friday night at Capital One Arena in Washington. Both puck drops are at 7 PM ET on NBC Sports Washington.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
The Blue Jackets are coming off back-to-back losses of their own to New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks. While they have been around in the Metropolitan Division playoff picture, they have slipped a bit into the wild card spot.
The Blue Jackets offense has struggled to find rhythm in recent games. Over their last 5 games, they have only scored 11 goals. The Jackets have only won 4 out of their last 10 games. If there is one area the Blue Jackets are familiar with this season, it is the shootout. In 10 shootout appearances, the Blue Jackets have recorded a 6-4 record.
Artemi Panarin, 26, leads all Jackets skaters in scoring. He has recorded 13 goals and 42 points this season. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is doing a great job in net for the Jackets, as he has recorded 22 wins, a 2.46 goals against average, and .921 save percentage.
The strength of the Jackets comes from a pair of young defenseman in their lineup. NHL All-Star Zach Werenski and Seth Jones are a dynamic pair for the Jackets. Both defenseman perform well at both ends of the rink. Jones has recorded 8 goals and 33 points, which is 2nd best among Jackets skaters.
Defense and special teams have been the main concern for the Capitals in recent games. The Capitals penalty killing has dipped a bit, as it is now 78.6% effective (22nd in the NHL). Another major concern for the Capitals is creating shots on goal. On Sunday afternoon, the Capitals generated just 23 shots on goal against the Golden Knights. In addition to shots on goal, the Capitals surrendered 31 shots to the Golden Knights.
The Capitals need to find ways to manufacture more shots and create more powerplay opportunities. Special teams are very important down the stretch, and the games are going to count more with a handful of divisional games left.
Some good news for the Capitals involves Chandler Stephenson. He has found the back of the net 3 times in his last 3 games. Stephenson has been very noticeable for the Capitals, as he has used his speed nicely to charge to the net.
Here is Matt Niskanen’s take on the Capitals recent special teams struggles:
— Tarik El-Bashir⌨🎙🏒 (@TarikNBCS) February 5, 2018
A LOOK BACK IN TIME
The Capitals and Blue Jackets last met on December 2 in Washington. The Capitals took a 4-3 victory.
By: George Foussekis