What a difference a month makes. Go back four weeks. Alex Ovechkin is coming back from injury, and comes back scoring even more than before. Coach Adam Oates is happy and praises the team. The Capitals were in second place in the Metropolitan Division and on the rise.
Last night, the Capitals were outshot 19 to 3 in the second period. They took four minor penalties in the second period. Seriously, more penalties than shots. No goals for Ovechkin. Oates is clearly frustrated after the game. He says “we played lousy tonight.” The team is tied for second in the Metropolitan, but falling.
And yet, the Capitals had a chance to still win until they gave up the winning goal on a “broken one on one” (term coined by John Carlson) with less than three minutes left in the game. When you have a chance to win a bad game, you have to make plays. Goalie Braden Holtby was correct when he said, “I have to come up with a save.”
What is the difference between the pictures in the beginning of the month and the pictures at the end?
Snapshot 1: Ovechkin was a minus 1 (empty netter at the end). He is now minus 7 for the season. To put this in perspective, of the top 20 game scorers in the league, Ovechkin has the worst plus minus…by 5. (or is it negative five?). Maybe Oates was alluding to this after the game when he said, “We have to be disciplined in who we are. Even our fancy guys; probably from the fancy guys first.”
Snapshots 2 thru 7: In the beginning of the month, none of the main six defensemen – John Carlson, Mike Green, Steve Olesky, Nate Schmidt, Karl Alzner and Alexander Urbon – had a goal. In November, Carlson has had 6 (including the game tieing power play goal late in the third) and Urbon has had 1.
Green took four more shots last night to make him 0 for 59 for the year. Green has taken the 83rd most shots in the league without a goal. By comparison, of the top 200 shot takers in the NHL, all of them have had at least one goal but Green.
Carlson has assumed the role as a two way defender. He is one of only six Capitals with positive plus minus this year.
Green at minus 7 is the worst among defenders.
Snapshots 8 thru 11: The penalty kill unit of Troy Brouwer, Brooks Laich, Karl Alzner and John Carlson. They surrendered 3 power play goals. Earlier this month, the Capitals penalty kill was number one in the league at over 90%. They are now 14th at 82.8%.
Tyson Strachan played instead of Steve Olesky. In less than 9 minutes of playing time, Strachan took an unnecessary instigator penalty, and registered no shots, no hits and no blocked shots.
Martin Erat, who earlier this week asked to be traded, skated in warm-ups with the team. He was a healthy scratch.