Special Non-DeliveryPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
In an 11-game stretch that started on Dec. 20, the Capitals scored nine power-play goals in 27 tries for a lusty 33.3% extra-man success rate. They also posted a 7-3-1 record during that run. In their last 22 games, the Caps have gone 6-for-69 (8.7%) with the extra man and they’ve been outscored by a combined 22-7 in special teams play. It’s no coincidence that the Caps have won just nine of those 22 games (9-10-3). “That’s a drastic discrepancy,” says Caps center Brooks Laich. “I’m a guy that plays on both units and I take a lot of pride in both units. On the power play I certainly want to be better and be around the net a lot more. I think I’m more accustomed to playing there. I’ve been on the point a little bit. I’d prefer to be down low, but I can play the point, too. “We want to score more goals on the power play and then on the penalty kill, we’ve got to start keeping them out. Last year, I thought that was a real strength of our team. When you do take a penalty, it allows your team to play more physical and be more aggressive when your penalty kill can kill off everything. We want to get that straightened out. And certainly special teams, the last month of the season and playoffs the teams with the best special teams usually keep advancing. We’ve got to make sure we’re one of them.” The Washington power play has been particularly vexing. The Caps’ extra-man unit has allowed more goals (four) than it has scored (two) in the team’s last 10 games. In the aforementioned 22-game stretch, Washington has surrendered five shorthanded goals while scoring just six goals of its own. Washington’s extra-man unit looks everywhere from lackluster to out of synch, and it needs to find its mojo in the team’s last 18 games. For the season, the Caps have dipped to 19th in the NHL with a 16.5% power play success rate. “There’s not enough looks,” notes Laich when asked what specifically is ailing the team’s power play. “In a power play, you want to have two to three to four shots where you’re getting more than one scoring opportunity each time. Rebounds, second, third chances. “Too many times it’s one shot and then [the puck is] cleared down the ice and we have to go get it and come another 200 feet to set up again and maybe get another shot that is deflected wide and goes down the ice again. There has to be shot, attack the net, puck retrieval, another play, shot. “I think when our power play is really in synch the puck is moving and everything is quick. Everything is sharp and direct. And when it’s not it seems like we take our time and we allow the defense to set up. More urgency, more chances at the net and you’ve got to outwork the [penalty] killers, ultimately.” They know they have to fix it. They seem to know how to fix it. Now, it’s just a matter of the Caps actually fixing what has been aiing their special teams.
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