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4 reasons the Caps lost to the Coyotes

4 reasons the Caps lost to the Coyotes

A red-hot Capitals team saw its four-game win streak snapped at the hands of the lowly Arizona Coyotes in a 3-2 overtime loss. Here's how it happened.

The first period

Washington was absolutely flat to start the game. The Caps managed only two shots on goal in the first period, neither of which came from any of the team's forwards. In total, Washington managed only 12 shot attempts in the first 20 minutes. That was not the tone the Caps needed to set against a team they expected to beat.

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Missed shots

The Caps had 58 shot attempts in the game. Of those 58 attempts, 22 of those shots were misses. Not blocks, but misses. The Caps just could not hit the net in this game. Even on opportunities in which they were not being challenged, they would sail the pucks wide or even over the net. If you have the opportunity and the room, you need to get the puck on net.

Special teams

Both teams had two power plays in the game. The Caps failed to score on either of their opportunities. Arizona went 1 for 2 as Washington gave up a power play goal at the start of the third period to get the Coyotes back in the game. Arizona entered the game ranked 26th in the NHL on the power play, the Caps were 13th. The Coyotes should not have been able to climb back into this game with special teams, but that is exactly what happened.

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A dreadful overtime

Did the Capitals possess the puck at all in overtime? It sure didn’t feel like it. They were outshot 6-1 by the Coyotes who absolutely dominated the extra session. With players like Kuznetsov, Vrana, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov, the Capitals should be a very good 3-on-3 team. Instead, it looked like they were just trying to survive by the end of overtime before Clayton Keller finally scored the game-winner.

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Capitals make another round of cuts sending several players to Hershey

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USA Today Sports

Capitals make another round of cuts sending several players to Hershey

With Hershey Bears training camp set to start on Monday, the Caps have sent a number of players to the AHL in the latest round of roster cuts. Mathias Bau, Hampus Gustafsson, Beck Malenstyn, Mason Mitchell, Brian Pinho, Kristofers Bindulis, Tobias Geisser have all been returned to Hershey. Grant Besse, who was on an AHL contract, has been returned as well. Mark Simpson has been released from his tryout agreement.

Of the players returned, there are no major surprises. The Caps only have room to add a fourth line center and possibly one or two extra forwards as well as a backup goalie and none of the players listed were in serious contention for taking one of those spots.

The moves cut Washington’s roster down to 43. The maximum roster allowed in-season is 23 players, provided the salaries fit under the $79.5 million salary cap ceiling.

The latest round of cuts still leave up for grabs the fourth line center job as Nic Dowd, Travis Boyd and Jayson Megna still remain on the current roster.

After playing four preseason games, the Caps have three more contests remaining before the start of the season. With plenty of prospects still on the roster, you can expect several of those players to be in the lineup for Tuesday’s game in St. Louis.

“For me, it's really important, really important for the overall direction of our organization to have our young players playing games,” head coach Todd Reirden said Friday. “We have to have them playing games. We can easily put out almost our entire roster to play [Friday’s] game, but that is not where we're at. We're about developing players within our organization, seeing where they're at, gauging the success that maybe they've already had in terms of their careers and seeing whether they're ready for this step or not.

“For the first four games you go through for sure a trial and error and you get to really gauge where your prospects are at. I've always felt strongly about that with young players and given them an opportunity to either stay or leave. It is in their hands. They're making the decisions for me.”

 

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3 players who impressed in the Capitals’ preseason loss to Carolina

3 players who impressed in the Capitals’ preseason loss to Carolina

It was another rough start for the Capitals who not only have lost every preseason game they have played, but have still yet to hold a lead. Washington was only able to put one goal past the Carolina Hurricanes as a 3-1 first period deficit gave way to a 5-1 loss.

Despite the ugly result, however, there were some bright spots. Here are the players who impressed.

Liam O’Brien

In an era where everyone is trying to get faster, it really can make the physical players stand out. O’Brien certainly stood out on Friday and looked like the Caps’ best player. He threw his body around against the Hurricanes, but he wasn’t reckless either. O’Brien’s physicality opened up offense for his line. He finished the game with four hits, but also had six total shot attempts, three of which were on net.

At 24, it is critical for O’Brien to show he still has something to offer at the NHL level as the team adds more and more young prospects. He is unlikely to make the roster, but he is certainly making a case for a call-up this season.

Aaron Ness

Ness had the play of the night for the Capitals with his assist in the first period. He took a pass at the blue line and found some room to work in front of him. He skated up, drew the defense in with a head fake and fed Nicklas Backstrom with the no-look pass. Backstrom netted the easy goal against the fooled Petr Mrazek.

Ness made the Caps out of camp last season and played eight games with the NHL squad. If the Caps are in need of a defenseman for a long-term call-up, some of the prospects are more likely to get the nod over Ness, but he remains a viable call-up for short-term spot duty.

Ilya Samsonov

In the first game of the Prospects Showcase tournament earlier this month, Samsonov had a shaky outing allowing five goals. He followed that game with a 21-save shutout in his second start of the tournament. In his first preseason contest on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, Samsonov allowed two goals on 11 shots and never really looked comfortable. On Friday, however, Samsonov came on for the third period and turned aside six of the seven shots he faced. The lone goal he allowed came on the power play as Valentin Zykov knocked the puck out of a scrum in front of the net to Jaccob Slavin on the back door.

The quick improvement from game to game from Samsonov has been impressive and he looked much more comfortable in net in his second preseason appearance.

Madison Bowey’s pants

Way to block that shot.

 

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