Each week we’ll be taking a look at one element of the Caps’ performance (individual, team, system, etc.) that has been working - Hit - and one that has been less than functional - Miss - over the last week of games (Friday to Thursday). We’ll also throw in some honorable mentions for each, hand out a couple of stars, and rate the week as a whole, hit or miss.
Sounds simple, no?
Read on for the first two weeks of the season, from opening night through last night’s loss in Nashville...
This week’s games:
- @ Blues - 3-2 OTW
- @ Islanders - 2-1 W
- vs. Hurricanes - 3-2 OTL
- vs. Stars - 4-3 OTL
- @ Predators - 6-5 L
Hit: Puck Possession
It’s come up a couple of times already, but despite their somewhat lopsided record of late, the Caps are actually doing a lot of things right. They’re limiting shots (last night’s fiasco notwithstanding) and controlling play (ditto), which over the course of a season should give them plenty of entries in the win column.
Honorable Mentions: The top line combining for 10 points, with particularly strong play overall by Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson; John Carlson with eight points through five games; the excellent NHL debuts of Ilya Samsonov and Martin Fehervary
Miss: Third-Period Leads
Four times in the last three games, the Caps have had a lead in the third period only to see it slip away from them. For a team that has supposedly improved defensively - and that looked that way in the first two and a half games - that’s just unacceptable. That they’ve managed to eke out a point in two of those games is important... but two points per game is much better than one, and they’ve had the chance to earn that each night.
Honorable Mentions: The power play, 0-for-11 before last night’s two markers from Ovechkin; Braden Holtby giving up 15 goals through four games
3) Alex Ovechkin - Moved into fourth all-time in power-play goals (and provided some good juju for the Nationals)
2) Lars Eller - Four points, 61.1% in the dot and 63.2 ES SAT%
1) John Carlson - 1-7-8 through five games to take the early lead among defensemen in scoring
Week(s) in Review: Miss.
It started out promisingly enough, but those good feelings are fizzling away as quickly as a Caps’ third-period lead. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty to like about their play overall, and there’s certainly plenty that’s fixable, so don’t write this team off because of a couple of rough outings. It’s early yet.
As we all know, however it can go from very early to too late in the blink of an eye - gather ye rosebuds, and ye points, while ye may.