The month of January was not too kind to the Washington Capitals. The Capitals last victory came on January 10 in Boston, where they defeated the Bruins 4-2. Since then, the Capitals have seven straight games. The Capitals are going through some tough adversity right now, and need to find ways to simply their game to get back to winning hockey.
The Capitals are struggling in various areas of their game right now. To get back into a winning rhythm, the Capitals must identify what makes them successful on the ice. This requires some extra film study and practice on the ice.
SIMPLIFY THE OFFENSIVE ATTACK
The Capitals have many highly-skilled forwards that can put the puck in the back of the net. From Ovechkin and Kuznetsov up front to Carlson on the blueline, the Capitals have plenty of firepower from all positions on the ice.
Over the losing skid, the Capitals have not played well as a five-man unit. The forwards and defensemen and have been out of sync, which has led to many turnovers and giveaways.
The Capitals are at their best when they can get a cycle going in the offensive zone. The Capitals are an outstanding fore-checking team, but cannot get their fore-check going when they are spending too much time in their own defensive zone.
To simplify their attack, the Capitals must get more pucks in behind the goal line. They must attack in waves in the offensive zone. The Capitals forwards must be willing to get in on the fore-check and retrieve loose pucks in the offensive zone. The Capitals defenseman must find ways to dump the puck in deep, and they must make cautious pinches to keep pucks inside the offensive zone.
PROPER PENALTY KILLING PLACEMENT
The Capitals penalty kill has not been very good in recent outings. The Capitals penalty kill struggled against the San Jose Sharks on January 22, as they surrendered two goals.
The Capitals defenders gave the Sharks forwards too much time and space in the slot areas in this game. The edges of the circles were left uncovered and the Sharks were able to capitalize with some easy goals.
In order to get the penalty kill back in order, the Capitals defenders have to challenge these areas of the ice. They must get pucks along the boards, and up the glass for defensive zone exits.
The Capitals penalty kill is ranked 25th in the NHL, and is currently 77.3% effective.
WINNING THE DRAWS
It has not been a good season for the Capitals inside the faceoff dot. The Capitals are just 46.2% effective in the faceoff dot. They are ranked last in the NHL in this statistic.
The Capitals must improve their play inside the dot. They cannot afford to lose draws in key situations. More faceoff wins can lead to more opportunities at controlling the puck and keeping it away from the opposition.
By: George Foussekis