Capitals At Maple Leafs – Post-Game Analysis: Capitals Drop 2nd Straight To Start Season, Despite Excellent Showing By Charlie Lindgren

Photo: Twitter/@Capitals

The Capitals fell to the Maple Leafs, 3-2 Thursday night in Toronto, dropping their record to 0-2-0 to start the season. Goaltender Charlie Lindgren was excellent, stopping 36 of 39 shots in the loss.

LINES AND PAIRS

Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette went with the same lineup that he deployed 24 hours earlier against the Bruins in Washington. As a result, Joe Snively, Connor McMichael and Matt Irwin were the scratches, once again.

Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Connor Brown
Aliaksei Protas – Dylan Strome – Anthony Mantha
Marcus Johansson – Lars Eller – T.J. Oshie
Conor Sheary – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway

Martin Fehervary – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson – Trevor van Riemsdyk

Charlie Lindgren started in goal for the first time in a Capitals sweater. Former Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov got the start in goal for the Maple Leafs.

GAME FLOW

The Maple Leafs doubled-up the shots on goal, 22-11 in the first period, but Charlie Lindgren was sharp, stopping all but one shot, a power play goal, as the Capitals led 2-1 after 20 minutes. The Leafs led in odd-man rushes 4-0 in the first.

The Leafs tied the game less than four minutes into the middle frame after Calle Jarnkrok got behind Dmitry Orlov for a centering pass and goal. The Leafs took a 3-2 lead early in the final frame and held the lead, despite two late Capitals power plays and a 6-on-4 opportunity in the waning moments of the game.

Key Advanced Metrics:

  • The Capitals led in 5-on-5 shot attempts 43-42.
  • The Maple Leafs led in expected goals for 2.19 to 1.68.
  • The Maple Leafs led in even strength scoring chances, 25-20
  • The Maple Leafs led in even-strength high-danger chances, 9-8.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Capitals power play was once again shutout, going 0 for 5, stretching their season-opening streak to 0 for 9. We’ve seen the Capitals go longer stretches of dry spells on the power play, but that won’t stop the heat from building.

I’d expect at least one tally on Saturday against Montreal. Otherwise, the “FireForsythe.com” domain will no longer be available.

CAPITALS PLAYERS

Charlie Lindgren – Lindgren kept the Capitals in the game in the first period, giving up just a power play goal in the early going. In the end he stopped 36 of 39 for a .923 game save percentage. I’m excited to see his next start.

Shots Fired – Alex Ovechkin (5) and Dmitry Orlov (4) led all Capitals in shots on goal. The Capitals had only 9 blocked shots in this one, Trevor van Riemsdyk had 4 of them.

Bottom Six – The bottom six forwards had both goals in Toronto. The top six forwards have just one goal in the first two games (Anthony Mantha). The top line has no points. They need to step up.

The Hitman – Martin Fehervary once again led all Capitals in hits with five. He has 15 hits through the first two games, which also leads the team.

Dot Battles – Thursday night’s faceoff work was better than last night, as the Capitals lost the battle at the dot by a respectable 54-46%. The Bruins pummeled the Capitals, 63-37% on Wednesday night.

Expected Goals For

While the power play will likely take most of the heat until Saturday, the Capitals even-strength offense has been just as much of an issue in the first two games. It hasn’t really been one player, as the blame for the poor offense at 5v5 can be evenly distributed.

Opening night vs. Bruins

I was somewhat surprised that Laviolette didn’t inject any youth into the lineup tonight, but then again, that’s Prototypical Laviolette. It would have been interesting to see Snively’s speed on the ice, particularly in the third period.

It’s still way to early in the season to begin drawing any kind of “big picture” conclusions about the 48th edition of the Washington Capitals. But as they say, it gets late, quickly. I’d expect an increased level of urgency to some degree on Saturday. If the Capitals lay an egg, then the worry might begin to be justified.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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39 Responses to Capitals At Maple Leafs – Post-Game Analysis: Capitals Drop 2nd Straight To Start Season, Despite Excellent Showing By Charlie Lindgren

  1. Anonymous says:

    Snively for who?

    • steven says:

      1st change has to be CMM for Eller as he is not doing anything. Then Snively for Oshie as its only a matter of time until he is hurt or for MoJo.

  2. Lance says:

    I just watched the highlights. Lindgren looked good except for the Giordano change-up goal. I can’t remember the game-winner, actually.

    I saw a number of 2 on 1’s against and short-handed chances against. Lavi’s system and our D personnel ensure that’s going to happen a lot.

    • steven says:

      That and the fact that this is a slow team. Wait until the season is about 1/2over and their legs are like weights and the younger teams have several breakaways a game. The D, especially Carlson, just looks tired and the season just began.

      • novafyre says:

        I agree. The Caps looked tired third period of the first game and tired all last night.

        But just putting younger players in to stand around isn’t going to work. Those teams taking advantage of their younger players are playing a younger faster game. If we don’t change our schemes, younger legs aren’t going to make a difference.

  3. novafyre says:

    So I was right in feeling that Charlie was our best player and outplayed Kuemper.

    Sammy scrambles, Sammy gets flustered, and yet no one really pressed or pressured Sammy all game.

    ““Those Points, It’s Very Important. You Have to Have A Good Start”: Alex Ovechkin Emphasizes a Strong Start to the 2022-23 Season ” Ovi had 4 shots tonight so that’s 7 sog, no goals, no assists in two games (over 44 minutes of TOI). Sid has 1 goal and 2 assists in one.

    Other headline worth noting: “Axel Jonsson-Fjallby: “I Was Super Excited… It Means The Team Believes In You.””

    Bears open their regular season Saturday 7pm. All AHL games are free this weekend on AHLtv.

    • Lance says:

      Ovie wrecked one into the crossbar. That was a good sign.

      Carlson needs help. We can chew him out but at worst he’s a very good offensive Dman. But Lavi rides him too hard. As always, Jensen tries harder than anybody but he should 3rd pair RD. The D corps needs a solid defensive Dman.

      How did Protas look tonight? I didn’t see him in the highlights.

      • steven says:

        Protas looked very good and had several very good shots. I this team is giving up 2 on 1;s like this now hat to see what is going to happed after their legs feel like they have weights attached. TO me Carlson just seems uninterested; he skates but just doesnt have the giddiup and interest he used to have. Maybe fatherhood and his contract have mellowed him and maybe his tank is just about empty.

        • Lance says:

          Glad to hear Protas had another good game.

          Overall, this year’s Caps look like an easy team to play against. What’s the Caps’ identity?

          • steven says:

            Old, slow and doing nothing new. The power play, yes only a 2 game sample, is running the same formation and plays that it has run for 10 years now and the good teams are or have figured it out. They are now 0-10 on the PP and dont look good at all. Kuzy looks lost and easily confused when opponents rush him. Sad to say but this team has nothing new to offer and other coaches realize that and have made adjustments. Yes I know only 2 games but still not a good sign. They had a 6 on 5 and a 6 on 4, for almost 3 minutes, and could not score as Toronto just confused them and refused to break. Oh well have to wonder if they keep playing like this will GMBM fire the lame duck HC and his staff and will he start to trade off pieces to let the younger players get more playing time for the future.

  4. novafyre says:

    Ovi has played over 44 minutes in two games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 7 sog. Sid has 1 goal and 2 assists in one game. “Those Points, It’s Very Important. You Have to Have A Good Start”: Alex Ovechkin Emphasizes a Strong Start to the 2022-23 Season

    Another headline to consider: Axel Jonsson-Fjallby: “I Was Super Excited… It Means The Team Believes In You.”

    “It would have been interesting to see Snively’s speed on the ice, particularly in the third period.” Even if on the roster, would he have been on the ice?

    (I thought I had posted this already but I can’t find it so if it is a repeat, sorry)

  5. Jonathan says:

    I’m told that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting different results. This feels like deja vu all over again. This feels like deja vu all over again. This feels like deja vu all over again. This feels like deja vu all over again….

  6. KimRB says:

    Can we start the rebuild now?
    Yes, I know it’s early, but does anyone expect anything to change? I guess the Caps can pad their record, with wins against non-playoff teams, but that’s not gonna get them into the playoffs. If they do get there, it’s another one and done.

    • novafyre says:

      I don’t want a rebuild yet, but do want an infusion of new blood AND new ideas.

      Last night the Pits who also promised a rebuild and then reneged scored six goals. Sid, as much a marked man as Ovi and almost as old scored a goal and two assists. What are the Pits doing differently?

      • Anonymous says:

        They played the Coyotes……

      • Lewis6kids says:

        There’s no rebuilding without the $9M tied up in Nicky. All our best players are past prime. Do we really think Ovie will be a top goal scorer forever?

        I know we’re not paying him, but we can’t commit that money to anyone else as long as he could return. No top player is going to accept a “maybe” to join the Caps.

        This team, as is, is not competitive in the Metro. And with our age, we’re not going to be any better in February. Those big end-of-career contracts never, ever work out. Jon, maybe you remember my analogy to the 2012 Phillies. It has taken Phila. 11 years to get back to the playoffs.

        • KimRB says:

          Start obviously with firing PL. And we got assets to trade. Eller, Orlov, Jensen and TVR are UFAs in the summer, Kuzy and Carlson could attract interest, maybe with salary retained. 2023 draft is supposed to be deep. Get some assets back now.

        • Jon Sorensen says:

          I think you hit on a critical point, Lewis. The NB19 money. It’s really tied the hands of the team, can’t really spend elsewhere.

          And I’m not sure how this will play out.

          • novafyre says:

            I’m missing something. If Nicky does a Kuch and remains out the entire regular season (which is what I have recommended), he has zero cap hit this year, right? So Caps could hire any number of this year contracts up to positions available and $19 million, right? Then they would either be free agents or, if Nicky retires, they would re-up. What am I getting wrong?

            • Lewis6kids says:

              If the Caps could find an impact player (or two!) willing to sign a one year contract and maybe (provided Backy does retire) extend, that would be great. Who would such a player be? Today’s stars are looking for guarantees and certainty – not “we can pay you until Nick gets back”. As far as team quality is concerned, we might as well be paying Nicky. We can’t use the money we’re saving. See?

              • novafyre says:

                That assumes that Nicky is able to come back and play well. Players do agree to get rented — they do move for one year periods or less.

                As to being an impact player? Would we get a superstar? No. But it might help the Caps.

                I just don’t see it as a hard wall.

            • Jon Sorensen says:

              Salary cap is a strange animal. The cap is tallied at the end of each day, so as long as Backy is on injured reserve, we remain under cap. Unfortunately there is not prorating.

              • novafyre says:

                I’m talking about doing a Kuch: Can a team go over the salary cap in the NHL playoffs?
                Yes, in the postseason, there is no salary cap. A team can call up as many players as needed carrying any amount of cap with them.

                This caused some controversy last season when the Lightning placed star Nikita Kucherov on LTIR for the entire season with a hip injury. Kucherov carried a $9.5 million cap hit that, by using the LTIR pool, allowed the Lightning to have more players on the roster during the regular season, and then activated Kucherov for the playoffs.

                This, to me is the situation with Backy and now, I feel, with Hags. Why isn’t it a solution for us?

          • Lewis6kids says:

            Only NB19 can stop this train, Jon. My faith is on him to do it. How agonizing it must be to contemplate ending a Hall of Fame career (at least in my book) with such a whimper.

            • Jon Sorensen says:

              Yep, afraid you’re right. It’s a tough spot for all, including NB19, obviously. He said he wants to end it on his own terms. Not sure what that means, whether he wants it to end on the ice, or maybe after contemplating he calls it.He’s a personal favorite of mine, so it’s agonizing on a personal note.

  7. novafyre says:

    A Maple Leafs fan site gave Charlie one of their three stars. I agree. I told a friend after the game that he was the only Cap I would give a star to. I really feel in all games this year he has outplayed Kuemper.

  8. novafyre says:

    29 teams have played so far this season. Caps have played twice.
    In goals for, Caps are tied at 14th behind some teams who have played once.
    In goals against, Caps are 28th (tied for last)
    In PP%, Caps are tied at 23rd with all the scoreless teams.
    In PK% we are tied at 19th.
    In shots per game played we are 15th.
    In faceoff win percentage we are 23rd.
    In shots, Ovi, Orlov, and Mantha have 7. MoJo has 6, Kuzy has 5. Osh has 2, Strome has 1.
    Carlson TOI 25:37, Ovi 22:13, Kuzy 21:38, Strome 20:16, Osh 19:18, Orlov 19:17.
    Protas has 11:11. Sheary 11:19, Dowd 11:30.
    Goal scorers are Sheary, Dowd, Mantha. MoJo.
    In TOI, Ovi isn’t in the top 50, and in fact not at the top for forwards. Kucherov has that honor with Conner McDavid second, and Brandon Point third (which might explain Tampa’s struggles in their first game). But it is still a lot for a forward.
    In shots Ovi is tied for 23rd, same as Sid with his one game.

  9. Anonamouse says:

    I disagree on it being too early to draw any big picture conclusions. The lackluster 0 for 9 power play is a direct carryover from last season, and that is cause for concern. Other than that, a slow start wouldn’t be a bad thing. That strategy worked well once before.

  10. Jon Sorensen says:

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