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Posted at 1:06 PM ET, 02/13/2011

Capitals still searching for answers on the power play

By Katie Carrera

Saturday afternoon the Washington Capitals' best chances on the power play came with the line of D.J. King, David Steckel and Matt Bradley on the ice - all role players who might be the least likely to ever skate with the extra man for the Capitals. They played with an extra attacker for less than 30 seconds and accomplished more than the team's cadre of superstars did in the first 1:30 of that particular power play.

After Los Angeles handed Washington an ugly 4-1 loss, Coach Bruce Boudreau said the fourth line forwards' success was easy to explain. "It's because they won battles," he said. "It was only for 25 seconds but they shot the puck."

The Capitals' foundering power play is nothing new this season. When the offense dried up at the beginning of December any trace of the league's best power play from the 2009-10 season vanished with it.

In the first 26 games this season Washington's power play went 21-for-88 or 23.8 percent and averaging 3.52 opportunities with the man-advantage per game. Over the past 30, a span that begins on Dec. 1 with the Capitals win in St. Louis, they are 11-for-104 or 10.5 percent. The question of whether Washington is drawing the same number of chances is valid, but they're still earning an average of 3.46 power plays per contest.

It's almost a daily occurrence that Boudreau is asked what is wrong with the dysfunctional unit and when posed with the query after facing the Kings he emphasized the team's lack of willingness to win battles to gain possession of the puck.

"It's a magical question. I wish I knew," Boudreau said. "We practiced it more in the last month than we did all of last year. It's the same guys but the number one thing you have to do is win battles. Every loose puck -- they got. Every time there was a one-on-one situation - they got it.

"There's no secrets - people think there's secrets," Boudreau continued. "It's the same group of guys that was 26 percent last year for the most part. Take away Tomas Fleischmann and Brendan Morrison, that was the best power play in the league and now they're gradually getting as low as you can go."

Since the power play began struggling the team started rotating the personnel. Alex Ovechkin moved to the half-wall from his usual spot on the point, while Mike Green and John Carlson patrolled the blue line. A host of players - Mike Knuble, Brooks Laich, Matt Hendricks, Eric Fehr and Jason Chimera - have auditioned for the role of prime disturber in front of the crease. Against the Kings, Washington's top unit at the start had Ovechkin and Green on the points with Nicklas Backstrom on the half-wall, Alexander Semin down low and Laich in front of the net.

It's easy to understand where Boudreau is coming from. The Capitals scored a pair of power play goals since the all-star break, one each against Montreal and Tampa Bay, and both resulted from heavy traffic in front of the opposing net.

Against the Canadiens, Knuble shoveled a rebound into the net from a ruckus in front of Carey Price. In Tampa Bay it was Knuble camped out in front of Dwayne Roloson, this time tangled up with big Victor Hedman to create a screen for Ovechkin's shot to bypass the Lightning netminder.

But the instances where Washington has created that presence by driving the crease repeatedly are few and it's almost impossible to predict if it will happen on any given day - whether on the power play or at even strength.

"We watch more video and do more work on this thing..." Boudreau said. "We've changed everything around a half a dozen times, so we'll see. It's very perplexing."

By Katie Carrera  | February 13, 2011; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  Bruce Boudreau, Power play  
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Next: Knuble skating with Ovechkin and Backstrom in Capitals' practice

Comments

Bench the first unit. I'll go out on a limb and say they can score the same number of goals from the bench as they do on the ice.
Johansson, Hendix, Bradley, Gordon, Alzner, Erskine.......really can they do any worse than the prima-donnas out there every night right now?

Posted by: marksman37 | February 13, 2011 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I think I mentioned giving the grinders more time on PP before. Wow what do you know it might actually work. They are the only players other than most of the d actually playing with heart. The first line is a waste of ice time these days. OVI and Backstrom should be demoted to the fourth line and move the fourth line to the 1st line. Enough is enough. Although I do think OVI and Backs are playing better lately are we getting 17 million out of them.

Posted by: pkme | February 13, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Its time for some of these "stars" to go. We drafted them, developed them, were patient with them, and now it seems they no longer have the desire to get it done for this team. Ship them out and rebuild again with a better mix of skill and character guys.

Posted by: bottlerocket | February 13, 2011 1:31 PM | Report abuse

@chriscaps

I do think a coaching change could make a difference. But it is in now way a guarantee. Also, who do you choose to replace BB with and why would that replacement be better? Just because a defensive coach comes in does not necessarily mean the players will buy in.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 13, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

@underpants

Right now I have nothing for you in terms of us talking to anyone. Im sure we are but my friend is being tightlipped right now. I saw him yesterday before the game but he was running around. Supposed to have lunch with him this week since the Caps are out of town and he will have a little more time.

If you missed my posts from the other night:
We had 2 scouts at the Colorado vs Columbus game(including our director of scouting..blanking on his name right now)

We had 1 scout at the NJ vs Toronto game.

We had 1 at the LA vs Pit game(someone mentioned it was bc we were playing LA, and thats all that could have been.)

And we were supposed to have 1 at the St Louis vs Minnesota game last night but dont know 100% if they were there or not.

Thats all I know as of now. I wish we'd get a scout to an Edmonton game but who knows if that will happen.

Posted by: ThePat | February 13, 2011 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Also, who do you choose to replace BB with and why would that replacement be better? Just because a defensive coach comes in does not necessarily mean the players will buy in.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm sure such a question has been asked THOUSANDS of times before firing a coach in any sport. Like anything some succeed and some fail.

It all depends on who is making such a decision and considering who's in charge of this team, I have no confidence that he will make the right choice when he decides to fire BB.

Posted by: joek443 | February 13, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The only right decision GMGM could make at this point would be to fire himself.

Posted by: joek443 | February 13, 2011 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone seen the rumors going on about The Pens trying to aqcuire Eric Staal. I would like to see the Caps try to pull that off. Semin and Fehr for Staal.

Posted by: pkme | February 13, 2011 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Detroit really knows how to play hockey. Caps coaches and players should take notes. They also play entertaining hockey. Even the stars crash the net, work the boards and actually work for the puck. Simple straightforward hockey. What a pleasure they are to watch.

Posted by: pkme | February 13, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat

Thanks.

Are there any kool-aid drinkers out there? I am not calling you out, I am asking for help. Please, talk me off this ledge.

I think we need to have an intervention with Ted.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 13, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

St. Louis game. Brad Boyes could work.

Posted by: underpants2 | February 13, 2011 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I was at the game yesterday. Embarrassing. I have no answers and I'm starting to second-guess whether or not I believe that they can make the playoffs.

Posted by: SirPelleas | February 13, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

As skilled as Semin, Backstrom, and Ovechkin, none will go in front of the net to score a dirty goal. Teams have packed in their defense to block one-timers or pressured Ovechkin who isn't a good enough puckhandler to be on the point, but BB has stubbornly stuck to his "it's the same guys who did it for us last year" mantra. The definition of insanity: doing the same thing the exact same way but expecting different results. Knuble should be on the PP first unit so at least there is some net presence,

Posted by: wizfan89 | February 13, 2011 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I think we got the message yesterday before the game even started by LA playing their back up goalie and saving Quick for the Flyers. Doesn't speak well from the rest of the league respecting our scoring ability.

One single bright spot from yesterday's game that I experienced-the coffee from Dunkin Donuts was awesome. That made it worth the trip and $ I spent.

Posted by: AADCDERM | February 13, 2011 3:12 PM | Report abuse

Lines out at practice in Glendale:

Finally the number one line is back together:

8-19-22
21-90-28
25-85-26
15-39-10

Fehr traveled but is still wearing the no contact jersey. Poti did not travel.

Posted by: ThePat | February 13, 2011 3:24 PM | Report abuse

If I was the GM & was required to hire a coach (that would be nice). My choice would be an ex-player (I would love one with at least one ring but, wouldn't require it). I would select a person understands the importance of defense & understands good defense doesn't have to subtract from a powerful offensive. I have some names in mind but, I'm just going leave those names out & see what you guys think.
Dunkin Donuts coffee kicks ass. Maybe we should trade Sloan for a cup. I bet the GM @ Dunkin Donuts isn't that stupid.

Posted by: chriscaps | February 13, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

yes, i'm not happy with the coach and gm but i'm really upset with the players. we've seen that they can play 60 min (pitt and tb games) but they refuse to make that their mindset. they refuse to play night in night out, shift after shift.

it bugs me that they don't have enough pride in themselves or their team to want to play a 60 min game. this is nothing new, it's been this way since last year as well.

skate hard or BB actually do what you've threatened to do and cut some ice time.

Posted by: natresgroup | February 13, 2011 4:02 PM | Report abuse

The Caps get some PP opportunities...but lately they just are not drawing penalties.

Against the Kings - Backstrom actually drew a penalty by forcing the guy to hold and pull him down.

There is not enough of that. The other team's best PK and D guys are off the hook because the Caps are not bottling them up and forcing them to commit fouls.

Any team can beat you if they are not pressured and not fatigued.

Last year other teams got tired and made mistakes - often in the 2nd and 3rd period because they tried to keep up against the caps.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | February 13, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Teams usually do not just stand still. They improve. maybe most of the competition last year was in transition and now they have all become more dynamic while The Caps have been static.

Posted by: pkme | February 13, 2011 4:24 PM | Report abuse

that this team still hasn't figured out its powerplay ten months after their epic failure against the habs is unforgiveable. there is only one reason for this: the coaches and gm. they will be lucky to make the playoffs this year. and even if they do, we all know how it will end: another first round exit. maybe then the owner will bring in coaches and management who know how to take a team all the way.

Posted by: dingram3 | February 13, 2011 4:47 PM | Report abuse

after the trade deadline we will be fine. Don't know if that will be with or without some of the current slackers........something's got to give!!

Posted by: Cayugalaker | February 13, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

after the trade deadline we will be fine. Don't know if that will be with or without some of the current slackers........something's got to give!!
--------------------

1. GMGM will mostly likely do nothing. If he does anything we'll get another Corvo.

2. You think MP, Chimera, Erskine and Stecks are among the untouchables on this team and Ovi wearing the C is the biggest problem. Why not just trade the biggest problem???

LMAO you're so clueless... GMGM is so smart and all the other GMs are so stupid that they will take our garbage players for the players you want, right???

Posted by: joek443 | February 13, 2011 6:06 PM | Report abuse

after the trade deadline we will be fine. Don't know if that will be with or without some of the current slackers........something's got to give!!
--------------------

1. GMGM will most likely do nothing. If he does anything we'll get another Corvo.

2. You think MP, Chimera, Erskine and Stecks are among the untouchables on this team and Ovi wearing the C is the biggest problem. Why not just trade the biggest problem???

LMAO you're so clueless... GMGM is so smart and all the other GMs are so stupid that they will take our garbage players for the players you want, right???

Posted by: joek443 | February 13, 2011 6:07 PM | Report abuse

More fans need to yell "shoot" when they're on a power play. That will fix everything. Reminds me of the days when Pittsburgh fans did the same thing to their crappy power play with Lemieux and Jagr.

Posted by: DCVibes | February 13, 2011 6:14 PM | Report abuse

i agree 100% to comments about these star players not delivering at all and being inconsistent the way they play. especially ovie. he's chosen to be the captain mainly to lead the team in scoring but also to be a good student of defense. the "C" should be stripped from him because he can't handle the responsibility. he is so immature. his line should be demoted and they should play shorter time. let the grinders play because they are the ones who can make it happen. let these divas know about it.

Posted by: capsfan2007 | February 13, 2011 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Hey "JOKE"443,
Done with this. You are intolerable!!!
Get back in Mommy's basement and get ready for work tomorrow. Soon you'll be a GS-3.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | February 13, 2011 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Imagine that. King gets a sweater and throws a bunch of hits, fights Westy, and generates offense with his forechecking. Too bad BB doesn't care about King's safety or he'd let him play to stay in fighting shape.

Pushovers. Sad to say.

Posted by: timKosecki | February 13, 2011 10:08 PM | Report abuse

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