Check out our local athletes in action at the 2012 London Olympics.
One of the major talking points of the offseason was whether or not the Caps could avoid the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover. Well despite all the planning by the team on how to avoid it and all the talk about how they would avoid it, guess what? At 7-6-3, they find themselves right smack dab in the middle of it.
Washington’s title defense has gotten off to a sluggish start and the team now finds itself tied for fifth in the Metropolitan Division with 17 points.
Here are a few observations from the past week:
- People won’t want to hear it, but the Caps did show improvement in the two areas that were the biggest question marks heading into their five-game home stand, goaltending and five-on-five defense. Braden Holtby looks much improved from the start of the season giving credence to his claim that he plays better when he can get into a rhythm of playing frequently. As for the defense, Washington has allowed two five-on-five goals in their past four games. Any team would take that, but the Caps walked away with only two wins in those four games. That leads me to my next point…
- The penalty kill is atrocious right now. While the defense has allowed two five-on-five goals in the past four games, they also allowed six power play goals over that same stretch. When Todd Reirden said in training camp that he wanted the penalty kill to be more aggressive offensively, I think he envisioned something like what we see from Arizona right now. The Coyotes have the best penalty kill in the NHL (91.8-percent) and also have scored an absurd nine shorthanded goals already this season. The Caps have not figured out how to be aggressive offensively while not leaving themselves vulnerable defensively and that directly led to Arizona’s third goal on Sunday. Reirden and assistant coach Scott Arniel may need to study the Coyotes’ PK a little bit to figure out how they have been so dominant on both ends.
- Another issue the Caps face is on offense as they can’t score without the power play. In their last three games, they have scored only twice at five-on-five. For the season, Washington is 0-4-1 in games in which they have not scored at least one shorthanded goal.
- If you’re looking for a silver lining, it’s this: the Metropolitan Division may be bad this year. The Metro division has won the Stanley Cup in each of the past three seasons, but the division as a whole looks like it’s taken a step back. Pittsburgh just snapped a five-game losing streak, you or I could play goalie for Philadelphia right now (and we’d probably be an upgrade), it’s only a matter of time before both the Islanders and Rangers bottom out, Columbus has been wildly inconsistent, Carolina can’t score and New Jersey has lost nine of its last 11 after starting 4-0. So don’t despair Caps fans, there’s still plenty of time for Washington to turn things around.
- After a sluggish week at home, where do the Caps stand among the rest of the NHL?
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Ugly, but effective.
That might as well be the Redskins motto for the 2018 season.
Washington won an important game Sunday afternoon, beating the Bucs 16-3. The score, much like the football match, was ugly.
The Redskins offense generated little yardage and even less touchdowns. The team mostly relied on kicker Dustin Hopkins for points, and arguably more importantly, punter Tress Way for field position.
Defensively, the Redskins were as effective as financial regulation during the mortgage boom. The team gave up more than 500 yards of offense but also created four turnovers.
Josh Norman grabbed an impressive interception early in the game that basically set the tone for the afternoon. Tampa had moved the ball into the red zone but then coughed it up.
And in many ways, it was a minor illustration of the Redskins season as a whole.
This team is 6-3 and well on their way to an NFC East title. They’re either the NFL’s best bad team or bad good team, but they’re winning games and that’s all that matters.
The Eagles and the Cowboys are 4-5, two games behind Washington in the division race. Washington’s formula for winning games isn’t pretty and could probably most generously be described as old school, but it still works.
Beat the bad teams, like they did in Tampa, and the Redskins will be hosting a playoff game in January. It’s that simple.
Much like their offense, there is nothing exotic or particularly exciting watching this Redskins team.
Don’t turn it over. Play good defense. Play good special teams.
It’s simple. And it’s effective.
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