Capitals

Quick Links

Caps making life difficult for themselves by making bad mistakes with the puck

usatsi_10416522.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Caps making life difficult for themselves by making bad mistakes with the puck

The Capitals had a rough first period in Colorado and found themselves down 2-0 after 20 minutes. The Avalanche have skill and speed, but the biggest factor in the Caps' poor start was the Caps themselves.

Washington made multiple mistakes with the puck, especially when trying to transition from defense to offense.

RELATED: TROTZ EXPLAINS WHY VRANA IS A HEALTHY SCRATCH IN COLORADO

Colorado scored 17 seconds into the game, but the opportunity all came from a turnover in the neutral zone by Brooks Orpik.

Another problem the Caps are having is making the simple play.

John Carlson had the puck in the defensive zone with Brett Connolly right in front him. Instead of the short, easy pass, he goes for the long distance pass to Tom Wilson who is standing all the way at the other blue line.

Long distance passes can catch opposing teams off guard, but they are difficult to pull off. Wilson could not control the pass and it lead to a turnover for Colorado.

In another example, Alex Ovechkin has the puck in the defensive zone. He has Jay Beagle right in front of him who can take it out of the zone. Instead of making the easy pass, however, Ovechkin goes for the homerun pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov who is near the offensive blue line. He's not open, he's covered by not one, but two Avalanche players.

The puck went for icing meaning another defensive zone draw for Washington.

Here's another example with Matt Niskanen choosing a cross-ice pass over the easy pass to Devante Smith-Pelly.

MORE CAPITALS: JUST AS NISKANEN RETURNS, DJOOS GOES OUT WITH AN INJURY

Niskanen goes for the pass to Kuznetsov who was just coming off the bench and was not ready for it. Colorado took the puck and got a shot on goal as a result.

More often than not, the easy play is the right play and the Caps just aren't making those easy plays.

Quick Links

NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are overcoming all obstacles, even the loss of Oshie

usatsi_10422847.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are overcoming all obstacles, even the loss of Oshie

If you were to make a list of the players the Capitals could not afford to lose, chances are T.J. Oshie would be near the top of that list. Unfortunately, the Caps’ winger has missed the last six games due to an upper-body injury he suffered from a hit to the head by Joe Thornton.

Yet, even with Oshie out of the lineup the past six games, Washington has managed a 5-1-0 record.

SEE THIS WEEK’S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oshie is the undisputed energy leader of the Caps. He was considered so important, in fact, that a team with significant salary cap constraints still elected to re-sign him in the offseason to an eight-year, $46 million deal that carries a $5.75 million cap hit.

Oshie’s injury, however, has not cooled off the red-hot Caps who have now won 11 of their last 14 games. It is still clear the team is missing him—their 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders in which the Caps lacked any energy at all is evidence of that—but the way the team has been able to rally without him is impressive.

If Washington can win five out of six without Oshie, how much better will they be once he gets back into the lineup?

The Caps keep winning and that means they keep climbing in the NHL Power Rankings. See how high they climb in this week’s rankings here.

Quick Links

Was Evgeny Kuznetsov even trying to shoot on his game-tying goal?

usatsi_10482869.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Was Evgeny Kuznetsov even trying to shoot on his game-tying goal?

What is the one knock on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s game?

You know what it is. Everybody say it with me now: He needs to shoot the puck more.

It’s no secret what fans want the talented Russian forward to do.

They yell it from the stands of Capital One Arena or when they watching the TV braodcast at home.

Heck, Barry Trotz has talked about it to the media before.

That’s what made Saturday’s win over the Anaheim Ducks so refreshing.

With Washington down 2-1 in the third, Jakub Vrana found Kuznetsov in the slot and he buried it into the net behind Ducks goalie John Gibson. He even had Tom Wilson on the back door to pass to, but he chose instead to shoot the puck. That shows that he…wait, what’s that?

“I think Kuzy was, on his goal, I think he was trying to make one more pass,” Trotz said after the game.

No way. This is just the head coach being tongue-in-cheek, right?

Watch the replay and see for yourself:

RELATED: 5 REASONS THE CAPS BEAT THE DUCKS

Oh. Yeah, that was definitely a pass.

Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano reaches in to try and get his stick in the way of the shot and the puck deflects off his stick and into the net. If you watch, however, the puck was never intended to go on net. Instead, Kuznetsov was trying to get it to Wilson on the back door.

CAPS EXTRA PODCAST: GAME 34 VS. DUCKS

At this moment, Kuznetsov still has the puck on his stick, but the blade of the stick is not facing the goal. It is facing Wilson.

The fact that he has not yet released the puck at this point means he’s not aiming for the goal.

While aiming at Wilson, Cogliano’s stick gets in the way and deflects it on net.

Could Kuznetsov have gotten that puck to Wilson? Defenseman Kevin Bieksa is in the passing lane, but if anyone could thread that needle, it’s Kuznetsov. The point , however, is that passing here is the wrong decision.

Kuznetsov has the opportunity to shoot from a high-danger area. Wilson would have had a layup if Kuznetsov had gotten him the puck, but trying to pass through Bieksa is a much more difficult play. If you already have the puck in a high-danger area with an opportunity to shoot, you need to take that opportunity.

The bad news is Kuznetsov was trying to pass up a scoring chance for a more difficult play to set up a teammate. The good news is that it didn't matter. Cogliano’s effort to try to defend the shot ended up putting the puck into the back of the net thus saving Kuznetsov from making the wrong decision.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but there’s still a lesson here for Kuznetsov on why shooting the puck is the better option.