The Capitals' win streak came to an end in a wild game against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday, but Evgeny Kuznetsov rallied the Caps to earn at least a point.
Observations from the loss
In the 2018 Cup run, Kuznetsov played at such an insane level, an argument could be made that he was one of the best players in the world. He set the bar. We know what his ceiling is because we saw him play at that level for 24 games. He continued to play at that level for the first month of the 2018-19 season, but the Caps have been searching for that player ever since. The way he has played of late is the closest we have seen to 2018 playoff Kuznetsov and that continued on Monday.
Even before he scored twice, Kuznetsov established that he was the best player on the ice with a brilliant first period. The only reason the Caps were not ahead 4-0 in the first 20 minutes was because of the heroics of Antti Raanta.
In 16 games this season, Kuznetsov now has eight goals and 10 assists. That puts him on pace for 88 points for the season.
Stretching out the defense
The Coyotes tried the stretch pass again and again and again, looking for breakaway opportunities. Clearly they scouted this and saw something in the defense they liked. This is something the Caps will have to face against fast teams. The defense is playing aggressively and fast teams will try to take advantage with those stretch passes. Samsonov made a few big saves to make up for it when Arizona did manage to get in behind the defense, but the Caps need to be aware of who they are playing and when they are trying to use their speed to get in behind the defensemen.
Bringing it every night
It would be fair to say Monday’s game was not the Caps’ best. They admitted as much. You can’t be at your best for 82 games, but I wonder, how many games we will see the Caps at their best in the near future.
This team is not without its flaws, but the first 19 games have shown that it is a great team and should be considered one of the Cup contenders. Part of the reason for that is how they play. The Caps are winning with a physical, all-in style of effort that includes delivering hits, blocking shots, winning board battles and doing the sorts of things that are really, really hard to sustain over 82 games. Playing that style will bring a team more success in the playoffs, but I would not be surprised to see this point streak end and the Caps go through a bit of a lull, especially in December-January when you really hit the dog days of the season. On a random Tuesday in January, a player really begins to think about whether they really want to dive in front of that slap shot and go for the block.
When they hit those low points, try not to freak out. I know this is easier said than done, but we are seeing how good this team is over this stretch. They are going to be fine this season and they are set up well for a postseason run.
T.J. Oshie scored in overtime, the Caps completed the comeback from 3-0, the game was over, there was much rejoicing and we all lived happily ever after...and then the goal was reviewed showing Oshie was offside.
Play of the night
Beating a goalie on the backhand is impressive. Doing it on a one-touch shot from a sharp angle the way Kuznetsov did was pretty incredible.
Stat of the night
The Caps have been a team of hot hands this season. When one player has a good game, they get rewarded on the scoresheet.
Quote of the night
The Caps battled back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the game and extend their point streak to 12 games. It felt like the game was over when Michael Grabner made it 3-0, but Kuznetsov never lost hope.
“What’s the point of playing the game if you feel like you’re going to lose? No, you always believe in the next shift, the next shift and the guys next to you, you are going to get momentum and we are going to come back in the game.”
Besides the score, this was pretty much 100% accurate. Tip of the cap for this one.
This is impressive...but wrong.
He could have. Ovechkin had seven shots on goal and another shot blocked. He just could not buy a goal in this game.
Yeah, this is pretty bold. The fact that Samsonov started makes it even bolder.
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