Special teams was key to the Washington Capitals’ success last season. The team has long been known for its vaunted power play, but the Caps captured the Presidents’ Trophy in large part due to their brilliant penalty kill, which stopped their opponents 85.2 percent of the time, second only to the Anaheim Ducks.
This year, however, the Caps PK is faltering. They are the fourth-worst unit in the NHL, allowing goals 28.6 percent of the time that their enemy has the man-advantage. Washington has allowed power play goals in four of the five games they’ve played, including a Jimmy Vesey tally Saturday night against the New York Rangers.
“I think it’s just little things here and there we need to work on and continue to get better on,” center Jay Beagle said. “We’re obviously not happy. That’s not good enough.”
Despite their disappointment, the Caps penalty killers pointed to the fact a few of the goals have come off deflections rather than complete breakdowns. Nevertheless, they know something is wrong.
“When we make our switches, it seems at times like we’re a little bit slow to do it,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We want to pressure but we have to pressure smart. If we’re not working at exactly the same time it happens to any penalty kill. I don’t think it’s as bad as it looks right now on paper, but we’d like to be better.”
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