After beginning the year zero for eight on the power play, the Capitals burst out of their goalless drought Tuesday night with two goals in five opportunities. Nicklas Backstrom may be the most important player on the Capitals’ power play, according to the CSN poll between periods last game, but some love needs to be given to the point men. When John Carlson and now, Dmitry Orlov get shots through and feed pucks accurately to Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals power play is virtually unstoppable.
Lets take a look at why Dmitry Orlov’s play on a power play that the Capitals did not score on deserves a lot of the credit for their later power play success.
From the first power play of the game, it was clear how the Avalanche were going to tackle the pass to Ovechkin. Their top forward would have their stick in the passing lane to Ovechkin with the customary net front defender closing out on Ovechkin to block his shot. See below.
At the end of this power play, the Capitals had back to back offensive zone faceoffs to the left of Semyon Varlamov. Dmitry Orlov was lined up behind the faceoff man, Justin Williams.
Orlov decides to shoot on both faceoff wins instead of passing it over to Matt Niskanen. This established his shot as a weapon on the power play for the Caps, and we can start to see the Avalanche penalty kill react to this even in this sequence. On the first shot, Matt Duchene charges out with his stick in the passing lane to effect the pass over to Niskanen. On the second faceoff win, Matt Duchene abandons the passing lane to try to block Orlov’s shot.
Now fast forward to another Capitals power play. This time, Orlov is on the ice with Ovechkin and look at how the defenders react to Orlov winding up for a shot.
There is no attempt by the Avalanche forward to play the pass to Ovechkin. He set up to block Orlov’s shot. The slap pass was executed to perfection, and Ovechkin did the rest.
The Avalanche did not have much chance on this play to begin with as they were running around the zone and were tired, but Orlov’s threat of a shot gave Ovechkin the opening he needed.
Now, when Ovechkin scores on the power play in a game, opposing penalty kills lose their control. They all cheat to take way Ovechkin, which is exactly what happened on the Caps second power play goal.
The Avalanche have to take away the pass to the defender as the Capitals have already established that as a good option, and Blake Comeau will want to recognize that Erik Johnson has already taken away the cross-crease pass to Ovechkin a little quicker next time.
The Capitals 1-3-1 power play has plenty of options to score goals. When the point men are seen as a primary one, it opens up all of the other options even more.
Headline image via Rob Carr
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.