Back in June, I raised the issue of the Washington Capitals not generating enough shots on goal. I even said the Capitals offensive attack was flawed, and that they might want to acquire a “shoot-first” forward either via trade or through free agency.
It was amazing to me that during the 2016-17 regular season that the Capitals scored as many goals as they did, despite passing up many shots. Fast forward to the 2017-18 regular season, the Capitals are not the same team as they were just 1 season ago. While the Capitals are still good enough to contend and make the playoffs, this team is clearly off a bit.
53 games into the regular season, I am noticing the same issue with shots on goal (or lack thereof) from the Washington Capitals. Through the regular season to date, the Capitals have scored 165 goals, which is 10th most in the NHL. That is good for just over 3 goals per game.
While the Capitals are still in the NHL’s upper tier with goal scoring, they are at the bottom of the barrel with shots forced per game. The Capitals average just 28.8 shots per game, which is 31st in the NHL. Through February 7, the Florida Panthers lead the NHL with shots on goal, as they average 34.6 shots per game. The Pittsburgh Penguins are right behind them, as they average 34.3 shots per game.
COMPARING THE TOP CAPITALS SKATERS VERSUS THE COMPETITION
In the past, I have stated that the Capitals tend to make the “fancy play” too often in games, instead of making the simple play. With the Capitals numerous attempts to be too fancy, they tend to pass up a lot of shots on goal.
Let’s dive in to how the Capitals top skaters compare to other clubs’ top skaters in terms of shooting the puck. The other clubs chosen are teams that are favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
CAPITALS TOP SKATERS
NOTE: 53 GP; 3 skaters with 100+ shots on goal
PENGUINS TOP SKATERS
NOTE: 55 GP: 8 skaters with 100+ shots on goal
LIGHTNING TOP SKATERS
NOTE: 53 GP: 6 skaters with 100+ shots on goal
GOLDEN KNIGHTS TOP SKATERS
NOTE: 53 GP: 7 skaters with 100+ shots on goal
PREDATORS TOP SKATERS
NOTE: 51 GP: 6 skaters with 100+ shots on goal
TRADE DEADLINE LOOMING
February 26 is the date of the upcoming NHL Trade Deadline. It is always a busy time of year for NHL clubs, and it provides plenty of fun and excitement for hockey fans.
With names like Rick Nash and Evander Kane circulating in the NHL rumor mill, one can only hope that the Capitals find a way to improve their firepower and offensive attack. The Capitals simply do not have enough players that are “shoot-first” in their on-ice approach. The numbers and statistics tell the story, and it is very alarming to see that the Capitals are stuck in this predicament.
The Capitals need an offensive jolt, and they need another player that can put the puck in the back of the net consistently. The Capitals need to continue to find ways to improve the club. After all, there is still a good chance this club can make the playoffs. After clinching another potential playoff berth, anything is possible.
By: George Foussekis