Capitals

Quick Links

Friday Six-Pack - What's up with that offsides call?

usatsi_8919783.jpg

Friday Six-Pack - What's up with that offsides call?

If it’s Friday, it’s time for our Friday six-pack of questions, where we answer the top six Capitals questions of the week. Let’s get started:

I don't get it the call. The play progressed pretty far after that offsides to call the penalty.

- @TylerHefner

Hey Tyler, I’m sure you’re referring to the Justin Williams offsides that negated Alex Ovechkin’s historic 484th NHL goal that could have made Ovechkin the NHL’s all-time leading Russian-born goal scorer. Yes, the offsides was missed on the ice and yes, the play continued uninterrupted, allowing John Carlson to set up Ovi’s one-timer that seared its way past Steve Mason’s catching glove in the closing minute of the third period. The linesman on the ice must have thought Williams was straddling the blue line with his skates. But, according the new coach’s challenge, a team can request a video review to determine one of two things: whether a goaltender was interfered with; or if offsides occurred leading up to the goal. Replays showed that both of Williams’ skates were in the offensive zone when Jason Chimera carried the puck across the goal line, constituting what should have been offsides. It was the correct call and both Ovechkin and Williams admitted the NHL got it right. It was also the fourth time this season the Caps have had a reviewed call go against them. The first three times were because of goalie interference.

Is Stan Galiev an option to replace Latta on the 4th line? @rtomoff16

Since being assigned to Hershey on a two-week conditioning stint, right wing Stan Galiev has three goals on 13 shots and is a plus-3 in just two games. And while that is impressive, it’s hard to justify making a spot for him in the Caps’ lineup when he returns. (By the way, a team can only send a player to the minors on a conditioning assignment once a season. That means Galiev will not need to clear NHL waivers when he is re-assigned to the Capitals one week from today. However, if the Caps want to send him back to Hershey, he’d need to clear waivers and I think there’s a good chance another NHL team would try to claim him). The Caps like Galiev’s offensive upside and that’s why they signed him to a two-year, $1.15 million contract in July. Galiev is a valuable commodity to the Capitals because if one or two top six forwards are injured he could slide into one of those spots and provide some offense both at even strength and on the power play, if necessary. Putting Galiev on the fourth line just doesn’t jive with what Barry Trotz wants for that unit. He wants the fourth line to be gritty, responsible defensively and able to draw a penalty now and again. They are more likely to get that kind of game from Latta and, depending on the opponent, Chandler Stephenson. 

Can't understand why Wilson isnt the net front presence more than Chimmer @CapsYapp

With all due respect, CapsYapp’s comment came BEFORE Jason Chimera scored two power-play goals Thursday night, marking the first time that’s happened in his 15-year NHL career. And while I like the idea of Tom Wilson seeing some power play time, it’s hard to argue with the success Chimera had against the Flyers, when he scored one goal off the rush on a beautiful rainbow pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and another off a deflection in front on a Matt Niskanen point drive. I think Barry Trotz is giving Wilson little bites of extra ice time and it starts with killing penalties. In my opinion Wilson is a player who made big looping circles when he came into the league, something he could get away with in juniors. But the NHL is a stop-and-start league, especially around the net, and playing the penalty kill requires a lot of stopping and starting, something I think can help Wilson’s overall play at 5-on-5. Trotz says he hopes to get Wilson power play time at some point this season but I’m not sure he’s earned it just yet.

What would a more offensive third line look like? - @BaciSaurusRex

That’s an interesting question. In my opinion, championship teams are built with two forward lines that can score regularly, a hard-to-play-against checking line that can eat up big minutes and score timely goals, and a fourth line that can hit like crazy without taking penalties and finished every night even or plus on the plus-minus ledger. (It goes without saying strong goaltending and a solid defensive six is paramount as well). I know Justin Williams was brought to D.C. as a top six right wing, but if you’re deep enough to have him on the third line, man, that’s a luxury. If the playoffs started today, I would love to go to war with Jason Chimera, Jay Beagle and Justin Williams as my checking line. (And remember, checking lines often log more ice time in the playoffs than second lines). One thing that stood out to meThursday night was the restraint Chimera showed early in the game when he was checked to the ice by forward Ryan White but did not chase him down and take a selfish retaliatory penalty. Chimera continued his shift without incident and drilled White when he got the chance later in the game – without taking a penalty. So to answer your question, I don’t think the Caps’ third line needs any more offense than it already has (10 goals).

Orpik escaped injury last yr...knew it was inevitable with way he plays...how smart was that 5yr deal? - @yesisaiditfirst

I guess we’ll all know in April, May and June. With 795 regular season games and another 106 playoff games, there’s no question the tread on Orpik’s 35-year-old tires are starting to wear thin, especially with the hard minutes he plays on the penalty kill and top D pairing. That said, Orpik cares for his body the way a meticulous car collector cares for his antique Model T. That’s why it’s important for Orpik, who is dealing with “multiple hurts,” according to Barry Trotz, to mend his wounds now instead of trying to play through them. As for the five-year, $27.5 million contract, I’m not sure the Caps get Orpik if they don’t give him that fifth year. (Orpik made $6.5 million last season, will make $5.5 million in each of the next three seasons, and $4.5 million in 2018-19 when he turns 38). Is Orpik going to be worth a $5.5 million cap hit at age 38? Probably not. But if he can stay on the ice I think the Caps can get two more top-pair seasons out of Orpik, which would be enough to transition into a top pairing of John Carlson and perhaps Madison Bowey in a few years.

With @tom_wilso trying to become less of an enforcer/instigator and @Latta17 seeing less ice, are the caps losing grit? - @CapsPuckSkins

Yes, but so is the rest of the NHL. There simply aren’t that many teams carrying one-dimensional players whose only purpose is to fight opponents in an attempt to get them off the ice or put their teams on the power play by drawing an extra penalty. Like many hockey fans, I like fighting and I think there’s a place for it in the game. When Tom Wilson is challenged, it’s usually coming from fighters who only want him off the ice. I think the Caps can play grittier without dropping the gloves and they played that kind of game Thursday night in Philly. The Caps will be tested physically every time they face the Islanders, as well, and will need to show the same kind of grit they showed against them in the playoffs last season. What I like about this Capitals team is they’ve shown an ability to play any kind of style against any kind of opponent – except the Sharks, of course.     

MORE: Caps make a pair of roster moves

Quick Links

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.

A quick start

Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.

RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-SABRES HERE

Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump

It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.

Ovechkin's two-goal third period

Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.

Quick Links

3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.

Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period to pull Buffalo to within one. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.

Here are the three stars of the game.

1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 983 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first came on a power play goal from the office, but there was no need for a one-timer on this one. The Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner.

He added a second goal late off a deflection from a John Carlson shot.

2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net.

It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.

3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole.

Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but his speed caught the Sabres off-guard and they were not able to recover in time to actually slow him down.