Caps Seek Power Surge

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

When the Caps roared out to their 7-0 start this season, one of the reasons for the team’s success was its power play. Washington scored with the extra man in six of those seven games, and was 8-for-27 (29.6%) with the extra man in those seven games. Since then, the Capitals’ power play has gone south along with the team’s position in the NHL’s Eastern Conference standings. The Capitals enter tonight’s game against the Senators in Ottawa with the league’s 23rd ranked power play, a unit that now has a 14.7% success rate. After scoring eight times with the extra man in its first seven games, Washington has now tallied just six times on the power play in its last 19 games, a big reason why the Caps are a mediocre 6-12-1 in those contests. The Caps are 6-for-68 (8.8%) on the power play since scoring twice with the extra man in a 7-1 trouncing of the Red Wings on Oct. 22. That was the last time Washington had more than one power play goal in the same game. Of late, the Caps’ extra-man unit has been even more arid. Washington has just two power play goals in its last 50 (4%) man-advantage opportunities, and it has surrendered four shorthanded goals over the same span. The Caps also come into tonight’s game in Ottawa tied with New Jersey for 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings. Washington is nine points shy of front-running Pittsburgh and seven points ahead of basement-dwelling Carolina in the conference. “You’ve got to try and keep it simple,” says Caps right wing Troy Brouwer of the team’s power play. “You’ve got to try to get pucks to the net, bodies to the net, hopefully get an ugly goal. It’s just like if you’re individually slumping throughout the season. You can’t do too much; you can’t try and make those extra plays, because that is what is getting you in trouble in the first place. “Just pucks to the net, bodies to the net. And you’ve got to make sure that you’re making smart plays and not forcing things.” Washington is in the midst of a five-game road losing streak, its longest in nearly five years. The Capitals have not scored a power play goal on the road in more than a month, since Brooks Laich’s extra-man marker in the third period of a 5-3 loss to the Islanders on Long Island on Nov. 5. The Caps are 0-for-21 with the extra man on the road since Laich’s goal more than a month ago, and they’re 5-for-44 (11.4%) with the extra man on the road this season. “[Coach] Dale [Hunter] has made a couple of subtle changes,” says Laich. “But when power plays are struggling, you just have to shoot pucks. You can’t be looking for the pretty goal, the through-the-seams passes, trying too hard, making sauce passes. Just shoot the puck and crash the net. Win some battles in there and try and score that goal. “The power play in the past has been a strength of this team. It’s made other teams back off defensively and not play as aggressively because they didn’t want to take penalties because our power play was very strong. We have to get back to that. The power play so far this season hasn’t been one of our strengths.”

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All Lined Up

January 14, 2013

There were a few line changes when the Capitals took to the ice for Wednesday night’s 5-3 win over the Senators in Ottawa. Most notably perhaps, was Alexander Semin skating on the right side of a line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Most eyebrow raising perhaps, was Jeff Halpern skating

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