Screen caps: @DimFilipovic
The Washington Capitals‘ power-play set-up has been somewhat predictable at times for for the better part of a decade. But on Wednesday night, in their 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins, the Capitals set up a little bit differently on a man advantage opportunity late in the second period.
A couple of elements to the Capitals power play appeared to stay the same. Defenseman John Carlson remained at the point while center Nicklas Backstrom stayed in his normal spot along the right half-wall. However, in this new tweak, Alex Ovechkin moved down from the left circle to the left post.
He sat at the post for a majority of the power play and didn’t move.
The tweak essentially takes Ovechkin out of the power play, but also requires repositioning of opposing players down low. If he is covered, the Capitals’ strategy essentially turns a 5-on-4 power-play into a 4-on-3 advantage.
As a result of Ovechkin’s unexpected new positioning, the Bruins’ penalty-killers crowded down low around Ovechkin, seemingly building a wall so that Ovechkin and Kuznetsov would be closed off.
The Bruins response to Ovechkin’s new location next to the post left John Carlson wide open.
This is a good strategy for when the Capitals play against teams that shut down Ovechkin at the right circle (play a tight man coverage), rather than loosely shadowing him which many teams do. Ultimately, it gives the Capitals more space to work with as the new formation turns a 5-on-4 into a 4-on-3.
The Capitals’ first kick at the can with this new strategy didn’t result in a goal, but will likely be tried again. Maybe more importantly, It will also give opposing teams another potential scheme to prepare for.
By Harrison Brown