Capitals fans have experienced these moments before. The fans have seen the times where the powerplay has sputtered in key moments, in the regular season and in the playoffs.
The Capitals powerplay could not seem to strike in those key moments against the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Saturday night, the Capitals powerplay sputtered against the Hurricanes and went 0 for 6 in the game. The Capitals ended up losing in overtime, and the Capitals had a powerplay opportunity in the overtime frame, but could not convert. In the previous two outings against the Islanders and the Blues, the Capitals powerplay was 2 for 5.
The Capitals powerplay has a specific design and setup catered toward Alex Ovechkin and his “office.” In all fairness to the Capitals coaching staff, it is a smart move to set up your top players for the best offensive chances with a man advantage. Because the Capitals attempt to set Ovechkin up for his prime shot in his office, the routine gets a bit predictable and redundant at times.
While opposing teams focus on Ovechkin, there are times when he is double covered. During those times when Ovechkin is covered, the Capitals tend to overpass and not work other areas of the ice. The Capitals tend to keep the puck on the outside near the boards and they do not work much behind the net or in the blue paint area.
The Capitals must find ways to work the puck more around the cycle, and must find a way to work pucks behind the redline and into the blue paint area. This will open the ice up more and free up additional passing lanes for the powerplay.
In addition to moving the puck to different parts of the ice, other Capitals not named Alex Ovechkin must throw more pucks at the net. If other Capitals can routinely throw more shots on goal, that will free up Ovechkin even more.
FIXING THE SCHEMATICS
The Capitals have world class talent on their powerplay. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson, and T.J. Oshie give the Capitals a powerful top unit.
There is no reason the Capitals powerplay should not be able to score at will against any other team in the NHL. However, they must fix the scheme and mentality on the ice when a goal is needed. They must find ways to score goals to extend leads. They must throw a lot of pucks at the net and fight for loose rebounds in front. Right now, there is a need for more will than skill on their powerplay unit.
By: George Foussekis