Takeaways From Capitals 5-4 Overtime Victory Over The Boston Bruins

Photo: x/@Capitals

If you watched Tuesday’s contest between the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins, you would think that it was a regular season game in March. However, this was a preseason game in early October. No standings points were at stake.

“If you came to a typical preseason game tonight, you got your money’s worth,” Caps coach Spencer Carbery said postgame. “Right from the drop of the puck I thought we did a lot of good things throughout the game individually and collectively.”

The Caps coughed up leads of 1-0, 3-2 and 4-3. However, it was a good way to test Washington’s mentality in a tight back and forth game.

 “This was sort of our first opportunity, tie game going into the third, show some of that, what winning teams do in those moments,” Carbery said. “Whether it’s puck decisions, whether it’s reads, and I thought we did a lot of good things in a tight game that it sort of felt like there was more at stake than then really was.”

 Here are three things that stood out in the Capitals’ 5-4 overtime win against the Bruins.

Connor McMichael Hungry

Connor McMichael was the most noticeable player in Tuesday’s affair. Along with his goal, he had five shots in the first period, through 4:53 of ice time. He was going to the dirty areas in front of the net and being aggressive on the forecheck. Meanwhile, he was also utilized on the penalty kill.

“If you know Connor McMichael, you’ve always seen that about him. He’s confident in his ability and he has swagger and in those moments throughout a game, he wants the puck, he wants to be the guy out there making the play defensively and offensively and you’ve seen him really take that step here,” Carbery said. “It’s the same way he looked to me at a lower level, but now he’s looking like that in the best league in the world.”

McMichael ended the evening with a team-high 10 shots and had 15:14 of ice time. He also had a partial breakaway in overtime but couldn’t convert. 

“I think I’m just making a lot more plays that I wouldn’t have been making a couple years ago,” McMichael said after the game. “It’s just like I always say it’s a credit to my confidence right now and I just think that playing with Kuzy and Willy has helped me a lot.”

Poor Transition Defense

Washington’s transition defense was not good, and this led to odd-man rushes for the opposition. Both of Boston’s goals in the first period were on 3-on-2 odd-man breaks and cross ice passes. That trend continued early in the second, and it forced Darcy Kuemper to come up large because of how quickly Boston was moving the puck up the ice. 

The odd-man breaks were suppressed later in the game, but it is not a trend that the Caps want to continue heading into the season. 

“I felt bad for Kuemper early in the game because you never want as a goalie playing your first preseason action in essentially, call it whatever it is four months, five months, and you throw a couple odd man rushes and grade-a’s, that’s a really tough start to hand him but we were able to settle down after the first,” Carbery said. 

Special Teams Special

Special teams came through for Washington in the contest. 

The Capitals power play was 2-for-3, with the goals coming from Tom Wilson and John Carlson. As NoVaCaps mentioned in their last takeaway piece, after the 4-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings, the man-advantage unit is moving more and getting more shots to the net. That was the same in Tuesday’s matchup. 

The penalty kill was even stronger, going a perfect 4-for-4. 

“The kill is picking up from where it left off last year,” Kuemper said postgame. “That was probably the part of our game that we were most happy with at the end of the season. It’s nice to see the guys back out there battling the same way and it was huge being the difference tonight.”

Notable numbers and observations

  • The Capitals outshot the Bruins 41-20. They outshot the Bruins 6-1 in overtime.
  • Anthony Mantha had a very strong game despite not registering a point. He hit the post a few times, including on a wide-open net. Very good sign.
  • Dylan Strome was 58.3% in the faceoff dot.
  • Each team had 14 blocked shots.
  • The third line of Milano-Strome-Phillips was strong once again. 
  • Defensive zone coverage and puck management needs some tune ups. Carlson and Sandin had a few bad giveaways in their own zone. 

By Jacob Cheris

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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16 Responses to Takeaways From Capitals 5-4 Overtime Victory Over The Boston Bruins

  1. Andrew Scanlon says:

    I think another thing to point out is look at the effort Mantha gives on the first goal for Boston. There is no effort as he slowly backchecks the wide open B’s player. Another thing is the effort by kuznetsov on the game thing goal in the 3rd. Both guys are really starting to get on my nerves. Yes Mantha had opportunities today but he still didn’t score….

  2. Joe D says:

    Just not seeing the Mantha praise. I am shocked he signed such a huge contract. We’ve seen three years of this guy. He has no puck handling skills, loses puck battles, misses shots on goal, and rarely gives full effort. Hopefully GMBM comes to his senses and gets rid of this guy. Analytics only go so far, IMO. 

    • Anonymous says:

      There are still a few Mantha defenders on various sites, but you’ll notice when they write about him they use a lot of “ifs”. “If he can build on last night”, “if he can start using his speed”, if, if, if. That pretty much says it all about him. I’d prefer we just dump his salary so we can put someone else in there who will try. He’s a detriment to what Carbury is trying to build here.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am not shocked that he signed a huge contract. Who if their right mind would turn down the money. Detroit offered him the money and he took it and then I believe lost interest. The Caps took on that contract when they traded Varna who signed a very similar contract with Detroit. Then both players fizzled. He has not trade value and if you cut him his salary is still going against the cap. So he sits in the stands most of the season eating popcorn, checking his bank account and realizing that after this year his NHL career is probably over. Sad to say this however GMBM never learns and keeps signing older players rather than letting the younger ones play under the pretense that this team is a Cup team, which is a bad dream by the owner and GM.

      • Anonymous says:

        Mantha had a stick a puck and a empty net in front of him with no goalie in a tied game and he effortlessly screwed that up. I’ll be very surprised if Mantha is in the NHL next year. By far the most worthless player in the NHL. Does not deserve a jersey on any team. No one was willing to trade for him.

      • Anonymous says:

        Jury is still out on Vrana, imo. He looked good with the Blues and maybe he keeps that up

        • Anonymous says:

          Vrana can keep anything up for awhile until he decides that he is more important than the team. Has happened 3 times and will happen again. Such a good talent wasted because of ego. Mantha is just a wasted talent, imho, because he never had the desire to be great. He did enough to get nice big contract and then mentally retired, When you mentally retire it is very hard to get you drive back. Yes trouble was traded for trouble. No intelligent GM is going to take Mantha so sadly he will waste a roster space here and hopefully be a healthy scratch so a younger player with drive can play!

      • CapsFan#1 says:

        I agree that Mantha isn’t what he should be but I think we should give him a last chance this year. Also, GMBM is a great gm. With 4mil in cap space getting Edmundson and patt is a good thing. He is doing a great job in my opinion. Although, I respects your opinion, some decisions are questionnable sometimes but for instance, the Mantha-Vrana at the time wasn’t bad but it just aged bad.

        • DWGie26 says:

          It’s our only option.  Play him and hope he performs well.  If he does, I think Caps will try and move him.  If he doesn’t perform, he has to sit.  We could cut him and save 1.1M which can be buried in Hershey.  Right now including Edmundson and Shepherd (not Charlie), we are under cap.  But when Patches comes back we need $2M of space.  So that could happen if nobody takes him.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mental Health Coaches can’t fix stupid! (Mantha)

  4. Jonathan says:

    “Carlson and Sandin had a few bad giveaways in their own zone”

    Look for that to continue throughout the season.

    • Jacob Cheris says:

      I really really hope Carbs breaks up that pair. Like they will provide tremendous offense, but the puck decisions they made in their own zone baffled me. 

    • DWGie26 says:

      Which is why they can’t be paired together.  Put Fever back with JC74.  Put Sandin with Jensen.  Alexyev/Edmundson/Aktel with TVR.

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