Powering DownPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
In last night’s excruciating 3-2 skills loss to the Winnipeg Jets, the postgame stats sheet shows the Caps had five power play chances. It’s the most power play chances the Caps have had in a single game since they went 4-for-6 with the extra man against Toronto on Dec. 9. The first of those opportunities came at 12:28 of the second on a Zack Bogosian holding call. The Caps were unsuccessful on that bid. Midway through the third period, Caps forward Matt Hendricks drew a slashing call on the Jets’ Tobias Enstrom, and he drew it the old-fashioned way: by slashing Enstrom twice himself and drawing the call on the retaliation. After a well-placed backboard shot from Alexander Semin, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin tucked the rebound in the other side of the net to give Washington a 1-0 lead. That goal came just 10 seconds after Enstrom was seated in the penalty box. A few minutes later, Hendricks put his nose where Jets forward Bryan Little’ stick could catch it, and it did, giving the Caps a four-minute man advantage. This time, it took the Caps a bit longer to convert, 12 seconds to be exact. That’s because Ovechkin exercised the patience of a sniper in threading a perfect cross-ice feed to Semin on a back door timing play. The Caps were up, 2-0. Semin’s power play goal, by the way, was the first extra-man tally for the Caps that did not come from someone named Ovechkin, (Troy) Brouwer or (Dennis) Wideman in a span of two months. Brooks Laich and Nicklas Backstrom had power play tallies in that aforementioned Toronto game on Dec. 9. The Caps couldn’t cash in on the back end of the double-minor to Little. With 18 seconds remaining in overtime, Washington got another extra-man chance on a Dustin Byfuglien tripping call. That one went by the wayside when the Caps were unable to win an offensive zone draw. As Ovechkin barreled toward the blueline for one last chance, Jets forward Tanner Glass issued a slash that was called at the buzzer. No power play ensued, because the skills competition was coming next. It was a smart play by Tanner. He had nothing to lose. In between the Toronto game on Dec. 9 and the Jets game last night, Washington had 62 power play chances in 25 games, or about 2.5 opportunities per game. In 12 of those 25 games, the Caps had one or two power play chances. They got 11 power play goals during the 25-game stretch: seven from Ovechkin, three from Brouwer and one from Wideman. Certainly Washington needs to play more of a forechecking and puck possession game to draw more power play chances and to re-establish its extra-man unit as a viable weapon. The Caps have had 172 power play chances this season, sixth-fewest in the NHL. Washington is on pace to draw 262 power plays this season. That would be one fewer than they had in 2010-11, when they established the all-time franchise single-season low with 263.
Two members of the Caps’ top offensive line from the last two seasons held court for the media today at Kettler before the club departed on a train trip to New York for Sunday’s game with the Rangers. Center Nicklas Backstrom has been sidelined for more than a month with a concussion and right wing