Capital Moments that Mattered: Lack of Discipline Leads to the End of a Streak

This pic wasn't taken in the moments following the goal discussed below - Steve Oleksy could take his time after this one, unfortunately. - Photo by Clyde Caplan/clydeorama.com

A couple of breakdowns - in discipline and in coverage - cost the Caps a regulation win and an exceptional streak of penalty killing success.

On Saturday night the Washington Capitals held a 2-1 lead over the Florida Panthers with time winding down. Coincidental minors to Mike Green and Tomas Kopecky for roughing had the teams skating four-on-four with under five minutes to play, and when Steve Oleksy felt he'd been wronged by Scottie Upshall and retaliated with a slash across the hands away behind the play:

Uyntxze_medium

The refs didn't miss it (funny how they rarely miss the retaliation, but frequently don't see the initial transgression), and the Capitals went to a rare 3-on-4 penalty kill. How rare is that set-up? Over the course of the 48-game 2012 season, the Caps were in that situation six times for a total of 4.75 minutes, and, prior to Saturday night, hadn't yet been in that scenario this year.

Having been so great lately on the traditional penalty kill (including killing all five shorthanded opportunities prior to Oleksy's second penalty on Saturday night), the Caps needed to adjust to playing with fewer defenders and more open ice. Adam Oates opted to go with Brooks Laich, Karl Alzner, and John Carlson to kill the 4-on-3. They couldn't get it done, and 57 seconds later the game was tied. Here's the goal:

The breakdown here is simple and clear. When your team has one fewer player than the other team, you shouldn't be double-teaming guys except in very rare circumstances. When a team only has three defenders, they shouldn't have two guys both skate behind the net. The Capitals were guilty of both on this goal:

Xml1iop_medium

Carlson has the puck on his stick for just a moment after Laich blocks a cross-ice pass, but Jonathan Huberdeau quickly strips him of the puck below the goal line. Carlson stays on Huberdeau, but Alzner also goes to Huberdeau to apply pressure. Huberdeau makes a nice play on his backhand to slide the puck past Carlson over to Brian Campbell, and Campbell made use of the space behind the shallower nets by immediately firing a pass to our old friend, Tomas Fleischmann:

9cwdhif_medium

Just like that, the streak of successful penalty kills was over at 35, and the Capitals were on their way to overtime. The Caps would end up taking both points via the shootout (thanks in part to some mighty fine atonement from Brooks Laich), but they lost a regulation/overtime win (ROW), which could end up being an important tiebreaker in what has been a tightly-packed and mediocre Metropolitan Division so far this season.

The Caps still got the two points, but they'll need to keep the undisciplined penalties out of their game and be a little more mentally sharp late in games. The cost was minimal on Saturday, but we've all seen what happens when ill-timed penalties and unsuccessful penalty killing can mean late in a game.

***

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Japers' Rink

You must be a member of Japers' Rink to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Japers' Rink. You should read them.

Join Japers' Rink

You must be a member of Japers' Rink to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Japers' Rink. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker