If someone had asked you before the season to guess whether the Caps would look better offensively or defensively at the start, most people probably would have picked defense.
With defensive guru Todd Reirden at the helm, Braden Holtby in net and a top four headlined by John Carlson who is starting to establish himself as one of the league’s top blue liners, plus an older offensive core with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie all over 30 years old, you certainly could be forgiven for thinking the offense would have more growing pains in the first month of the season than the defense.
And yet, three weeks into the season, the opposite has been true.
Take a guess as to which team has the top offense in the NHL. Toronto? Tampa Bay? Actually, it’s the Caps.
Washington ranks first in the league with 4.14 goals per game. Where they have struggled of late has been on the other end of the ice where the Caps are allowing 3.86 goals per game, good for only 28th in the league.
Friday’s game against the Florida Panthers was a horrible defensive game in which the Caps allowed five regulation goals and lost in a shootout. The problem was not that they allowed five goals, it’s that all five came from the slot directly in front of the net.
There were no deflections, no unlucky bounces, none of those chance hockey plays that make you throw up your hands and say, nothing they could have done about that one. No, there were just five goals scored in high-danger areas as the Panthers picked the defense apart.
Defensively, the Caps had no control of the front of their own net and that’s a problem.
Washington has allowed at least four goals in all four of their losses this season. Having a dominant offense does not matter nearly as much if the defense cannot keep up.
The Caps are starting to fall back in the rankings after three losses in four games. Where do they fall this week?
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- Shootout Loss: 3 reasons the Caps fell to the Panthers