Photo: Rob Carr
The morning after getting pwn’d by the Islanders in game one, the Capitals held an optional skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Barry Trotz said that many of the mistakes the Caps made the night before were ones the team had worked on all season long. They knew better, Troz said, so an actual practice on the ice would serve little purpose. That said, I’m sure Trotz reviewed a lot of game tape with the team, hopefully some from the Caps’ two failed power plays.
Islanders head coach Jack Capuano had his penalty killers play in an aggressive box formation against the Caps’ top-ranked power play. Basically, the Isles player nearest the puck would skate out quickly to force a bad decision by the Caps. The Isles penalty kill, ranked 26th in the league during the regular season (76 percent), thrives on chaos created by their team speed. The Caps made long passes, turned the puck over, and were unable to set up Alex Ovechkin more than once in the left circle. On top of that, the Isles had scouted the Caps power play so much, it seemed as if they knew where the puck was going to go before the Caps did.
Watch how discombobulated the Caps were during their first man advantage.
And here’s the entire video of it.
Johnny Boychuk shadows Ovechkin and makes it difficult for him to get a clear lane to the net.
CSN Washington analyst Craig Laughlin discussed the Caps troubles during the telecast.
“The [Isles penalty killers] are going to swarm,” he said. “They are not going to stand around. All four guys will often be in the corner– much like the New York Rangers penalty-killing unit. They’re very aggressive.”
Laughlin explained that to get chances against them, “you gotta have short, little passes with a lot of support to break them down.”
The Capitals did the opposite. Instead of methodically tiring out the Isles’ attacking skaters, the Caps tried to do too much. You would have to think in game two, Caps power play coach Blaine Forsythe will make adjustments. If not, the Caps’ biggest strength could become their biggest weakness in the playoffs. The Islanders, after all, led the league in shorthanded goals.
When looking for more context, I noticed the Caps went 3-for-9 on the power play during their four regular season games against the Isles. That 33.3-percent success rate is even higher than the 25.3-percent average the Caps had over 82 games. But it’s a bit misleading.
The Caps scored on their first three power plays. The Isles penalty kill was a passive box.
Since then, the Caps have gone 0 for their last 8 with the man advantage.
That’s not good.
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