Capitals

Quick Links

After another disappointing preseason result, is it time to worry about the Caps?

After another disappointing preseason result, is it time to worry about the Caps?

If Wednesday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils had a depressingly familiar feel to it, there’s a reason for that.

The Capitals fell 4-1 in their home preseason finale, their fourth loss in five preseason games. In all four of their losses, they have allowed four goals, while scoring only a combined three goals. Overall in the preseason, Washington has been outscored 18-7 with only two five-on-five goals to show for their efforts.

Is it too early to worry about the Caps? Yes. Of course it is. But that doesn't mean there aren't thing they need to very quickly improve.

RELATED: DEFENSE FAILS CAPS EARLY AGAINST THE DEVILS

Through five games, one cannot help but notice how one-sided these games have been and it’s not something the Capitals are happy about.

“Obviously the results of the preseason aren't really something you really take into account,” Braden Holtby said, who allowed four goals on 33 shots to New Jersey. “It's more how we're playing and I don't think we're playing at a good enough level yet.”

“The biggest disappointment is we haven't found our game,” head coach Barry Trotz said following Wednesday’s loss. “Our lineup, being full or not, you'd like to see it closer to where it needs to [be].”
 
So what has gone wrong?
 
On Wednesday, the problem was poor defense at the start. The Devils scored all four of their goals in the first period including three power play goals on three power play opportunities.
 
“Don’t do that again,” John Carlson said when asked what his takeaway from Wednesday’s game was. “I feel like we harp on starts a lot and they mean a lot so we can't put ourselves in that hole and be that sloppy and expect to do well in that game.”
 
Defense is a concern for the Capitals this season as they have only three true top-four defensemen on their roster. Aaron Ness skated with Carlson on the second pair in a lineup that looked very close to what the opening night roster is believed to look like.
 
Another issue in the preseason has been on the other end of the ice where the Caps are just not getting enough production. Not only does Washington have only seven goals in five games, just one has come from the team’s presumed top-six. Four of those goals have been scored by Nathan Walker, Devante Smith-Pelly, Alex Chiasson and Tyler Graovac, fringe players who are competing just to make the roster.
 
“Everybody from our leadership group to our top players, we have to get some production there and they know it too,” Trotz said.
 
The good news is that all preseason results should be taken with a grain of salt. The Colorado Avalanche, the worst team in the NHL last season, went undefeated in the preseason in 2016 with six wins.
 
But with only two games remaining in their preseason slate, the Capitals are running out of time to get back on track before the games start to matter.
 
“You want to obviously find your game as quick as you can,” Holtby said. “That's the goal, obviously. We're using these games as preparation to move into the regular season and obviously the results and the way we've played haven't been what we're expecting. That's not a reason to panic, that's a reason to work harder and push ourselves even mroe and that's what we're going to do.”

MORE CAPITALS: ALL THE FEELS FOR THE CAPS' MILITARY SURPRISE

Quick Links

Tarik's Three Stars: Alex Ovechkin completes Capitals OT comeback

ovechkin_yell_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Tarik's Three Stars: Alex Ovechkin completes Capitals OT comeback

For 40 minutes, Saturday’s showdown vs. the Ducks was the John Gibson Show.

But the Anaheim goaltender could only keep the Caps at bay for so long.

Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov rallied the home team in the third period, and Alex Ovechkin scored in overtime to lift Washington to a 3-2 victory.

The Caps have now won six in a row at home and three straight overall. Meanwhile, the Ducks’ last four losses have come after regulation.

Tarik’s three stars of the night:

1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Ovechkin ripped a shot past John Gibson 1:58 into the extra session to seal the win. Ovechkin also had the primary assist on Nicklas Backstrom’s game tying goal in the third period. The goal was Ovechkin’s 23rd on the season and the 21st of his career in overtime.  

2-Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals

Kuznetsov scored Washington’s second goal, knotting the score, 2-2, at 7:27 of the third period. No. 92 snagged a nice pass from Jakub Vrana and fired a shot past Gibson that changed directions ever so subtly after touching an Anaheim defender’s stick. Kuzy now has five points in the last three games (1 goal, 4 assists).

3-Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

For a long time this season, it looked like Backstrom may never score again. Now, he can’t stop scoring. His second goal in two games—and fourth in six contests—cut the Caps’ deficit to 2-1 four minutes before Kuznetsov’s strike. The scoring play began with an egregious giveaway by Josh Manson deep in Anaheim’s end.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Quick Links

Burakovsky may be healthy, but he is still adjusting to the speed of the game

usatsi_9822201.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Burakovsky may be healthy, but he is still adjusting to the speed of the game

Andre Burakovsky was considered a key piece of the Capitals offense this year, but a thumb injury in late October forced him out of the lineup until Dec. 8.

But just because he is healthy does not mean he is back to game speed yet and that is evident in his stats. In four games since he has returned, Burakovsky has only one point to show for it, an assist against the Colorado Avalanche.

HOW TO WATCH CAPS-DUCKS

“Stops and starting and turning feels, I think when I'm skating, I feel like it's a little bit odd,” Burakovsky said after practice on Friday. “But I think stickhandling and passing and shooting is coming back. I had a couple good looks [Thursday against the Boston Bruins], it's just some bad luck. Just sometimes when I skate I can feel like it's still a little bit different.”

When a player misses six weeks like Burakovsky did, he has two hurdles to clear before he is truly “100-percent.” First, he must get healthy. Second, and one aspect that many forget is the process of getting back into game speed.

Burakovsky has done the first part, but he is still working on the second.

“Just like any player coming back, they're not going to be 100-percent all the time in the whole thought process, the whole game process,” Barry Trotz said. “He's missed six weeks. He's in great shape, he's worked hard, he's done all that but it's just getting the timing. You've been skating and working with guys and haven't had six weeks of people tracking you down, leaning on you, putting pressure on your stick and the puck and all that. Those plays are a little harder to make because you haven't had that for six weeks.”

MORE CAPITALS: WHEN WILL OSHIE RETURN TO THE CAPS' LINEUP?

For a player like Burakovsky who wants to produce points, that process can get frustrating. He’s back in the lineup and getting minutes, but not points as he continues to get back up to speed.

“Obviously, I'm trying not to get frustrated, but I'm just a player that's really hard on myself,” he said. “When things aren't going 100-percent the right way, I'm getting hard on myself. I'm trying not to think too much about it, just trying to do all the right things.”

It’s all just part of the process for a player who needs to realize that being healthy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re 100-percent.