It has been an ugly couple of weeks for the Washington Capitals. Losers of five straight games, the Capitals have hit a bit of a rut. The Capitals have surrendered 23 goals against in their last five outings. Clearly, these recent performances are not acceptable, and they are not a good recipe for success.
The Capitals are losing games, and are looking for answers to get back on track. The Capitals are not doing a very good job of getting the puck into the offensive zone. Defensive turnovers have led the Capitals to chase pucks inside their own zone.
The Capitals have some things to clean up with their game. Let’s dive in to what the Capitals can do to improve their overall game.
CRISPER OFFENSIVE ZONE ENTRIES ARE NEEDED
Jonathan Toew’s hat trick in the 8-5 beatdown on Sunday epitomized everything that is going wrong with the Capitals right now. On Toew’s third goal of the game, the Capitals simply did not do a good enough job with the puck in the neutral zone. Brett Connolly’s critical turnover in the neutral zone led to the rush going toward the Capitals net.
Little miscues like this are very correctable. The Capitals must eliminate these neutral zone miscues. The Capitals defensive core is very active, and likes to pinch up into the offensive zone. While this is good for generating offense, it can lead to odd-man rushes toward the Capitals net. It is important for the Capitals forwards and defenseman to be on the same page inside the neutral zone when it comes to precision passing. The Capitals must get pucks deep into their offensive zone and behind the red line.
LIMIT THE GIVEAWAYS
Over the last five games, the Capitals have had 53 giveaways. In the recent game against Nashville, the Capitals had a critical giveaway in the neutral zone with the man-advantage.
As one could have likely predicted, the giveaway led to a Viktor Arvidsson shorthanded goal against the Capitals. Shorthanded goals are huge momentum swings in games, and this was the case in Nashville’s favor last Tuesday night.
CREATE POWERPLAY OPPORTUNITIES
The Capitals have only had six powerplay opportunities in their last three games. The Capitals are a team that feeds off the momentum from their powerplay. They have just one powerplay goal in these last three games.
The Capitals must find ways to earn more opportunities at the powerplay. When the Capitals skaters hold on to the puck and drive into the offensive zone, they are very good at generating powerplay chances. In recent games, the Capitals have been sloppy with the puck, and have not created quality offensive zone pressure. Powerplay chances are created by being strong on the puck, and shooting the puck at the net.
THE CAPITALS NEED TO SCORE THE FIRST GOAL
Over the last five games, the Capitals have scored the first goal of the game just once. Alex Ovechkin scored the opening tally against St. Louis last Monday, but the Capitals lost that game 4-1.
Scoring the first goal of the game can set the tone of the game. It is a mindset the Capitals need to get into to boost the team confidence.
By: George Foussekis