Capitals

After 6 goalless games, Caps expect more from their power play

Capitals

On Saturday night in Buffalo, the Capitals entered the third period down 2-1, but with 2:16 of power play time remaining from a double-minor to Kyle Okposo. Surely this would be the moment Washington's vaunted power play took the game over. It wasn't. The power play ran out and the Caps had to rely on a goal from defenseman Martin Fehervary later in the period to tie it.

No one scores on every key power play opportunity, but Saturday marked the sixth straight game in which Washington has failed to score a power play goal. The Caps have now have zero goals in their last 10 opportunities as the power play has grown cold.

"Usually if you don't score it's not doing too well," John Carlson said. "Something that we work on and try to get better at. I think that's pretty simple from my standpoint, it's not good enough."

On Nov. 26, Alex Ovechkin pulled to within one goal of Dave Andreychuk's power play goal record. Now over two weeks later, he remains stuck on 273. The recent cold spell has knocked the Caps power play down to 16.5%, ranking only 27th in the NHL.

Even more frustrating for the team is that there has not been one specific issue they can pin their struggles on.

"Some games we could be a little bit better on the entry, some games we could be a little bit better on execution," head coach Peter Laviolette said.

There are times in which the Caps struggle to enter the offensive zone. They employ the drop pass as their primary means of break-in, but they frequently run it slowly allowing opposing penalty kills time to adjust and defend. When they do get into the offensive zone, the build up has been too slow and plotting.

 

One major factor for the team's struggle has been the absence of players like T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom, both of whom play key roles on the power play.

"It's nice to have T.J. back, it's nice to have Nick working in the lineup today just in practice, just to start to get the reps," Laviolette said. "Hopefully the personnel and coming back in and some of what we've been used to for years here, we might have that look coming up in the future and that's a good thing. But it's something that we're talking about and working on all the time."

One other quirk is the fact that the Caps just are not drawing very many penalties. Ten power plays in six games averages out to fewer than two opportunities per game. Their 10 opportunities since Nov 30 are the fewest in the NHL.

Carlson, however, sees the lack of power play time as more of an excuse than an explanation.

"I don't know if that has any correlation," Carlson said. "Definitely we haven't gotten too many opportunities over the past little while and I think for whatever reason that's just how it's been going for us. We know what we expect of ourselves and we haven't come close to those expectations. From my standpoint, it doesn't matter if we have one a week or 10, we've got to be doing a lot better than we have."