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Posted at 4:59 PM ET, 02/20/2011

Capitals finally cash in on the power play to defeat Sabres 2-1

By Katie Carrera

Starting Sunday's matinee against the Sabres off 0-for-4 on the power play it would have been easy for the Capitals to grow irritated with their own inability to score despite a handful of what might be considered 10-bell chances that simply couldn't fool Buffalo's all-star goaltender Ryan Miller.

But the Capitals kept pouring pucks on net and when they got another crack at the man-advantage in the third period a puck bounced their way as a rebound from a long shot by Alex Ovechkin popped out to Mathieu Perreault, who threw it toward the net where Marcus Johansson inadvertently redirected it into the cage.

Even before that goal was scored though, the Capitals felt as though the only thing standing in their way between more goals was Miller, who finished with 37 saves.

"I think that when you're moving the puck good you're frustrated you're not scoring but you're not [angry] like you would be if they keep icing the puck and nothing's working," said John Carlson, who played a game high 24 minutes, 29 seconds including 7:24 on the power play. The Capitals played only seven seconds on the man-advantage against Buffalo without Carlson on the ice.

"We had probably five great chances in six minutes of the power play," Carlson continued. "Obviously we're not happy when we're not scoring then but as long as we keep moving forward over time with [the power play] -- and I feel like we're getting there -- that's what we need."

Coach Bruce Boudreau was pleased with the way his team was able to remain focused and not give up when Miller was able to make so many stellar saves that prevented the Capitals from taking a significant lead early on.

"I looked after the first period because you get frustrated sometimes with the power play," Boudreau said. "We had like five unbelievable chances we just knew Ryan Miller was in one of those zones and we had to persevere if we were going to succeed. We knew if he could see it he was going to stop it tonight. Matty's goal was a puck flipper and the last goal went off Marcus or he would have stopped that shot too. We got a little bit lucky but if you put enough shots at the net good things usually happen."

Johansson said afterward he was actually trying to get out of the way of Perreault's shot off and wound up redirecting it instead, but it's a happy mistake that resulted in the first power play goal of his NHL career.

The power play is still 4-for-33 (12.1 percent) in the last 10 games, but as they get more chances on it the Capitals are starting to show more confidence in their ability to get it back on track.

"I think we got some chances on the power play all night we just couldn't get it in as has happened before," Johansson said. "But we just kept working all game and when we work like that, I think the goals are going to come, and we got what we needed."

By Katie Carrera  | February 20, 2011; 4:59 PM ET
Categories:  Bruce Boudreau, Buffalo Sabres, John Carlson, Marcus Johansson  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Open thread: Capitals at Sabres
Next: Mathieu Perreault's two points help boost Capitals over Sabres


Could someone post or link to a couple of diagrams (not joking ones, please, or at least not just joking ones) that show the difference between the Caps systems last year and this year, how players line up, where they go on the ice? I'm trying to understand the difference (and what makes the Caps look so boring this year). If not diagrams, maybe some clear description?


Posted by: BigMogilny | February 20, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Based on a question Vogel asked BB in the postgame presser about lack of players with ability to play the point on the PP, I would not be surprised if we claim Souray. I also wouldnt be surprised if he goes unclaimed.

But they really need another point man desperately at this point. Ovi and Carlson basically played the full 8 minutes on the PP in the first period. That ends up being dangerous when those players have to play even strength. So whether they claim Souray or get a F in a trade that can do it something needs to happen.

Posted by: ThePat | February 20, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

@ThePat. I think we could really use a left hand shot since all three of our current PP D are all right. But if we don't when Green comes back he will help split up some of that time for Ovie and Carlson so they won't be playing the full 8 minutes (really 6 since there was a real long 5-3 that was 4 minutes of PP happening at the same time).

Posted by: icehammer97 | February 20, 2011 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Good overall game...I thought the PP looked pretty good and we easily could have had a few more goals. I still think we didn't have enough guys bugging Miller.

Varly looked really shaky...he gave up too many juicy rebounds. I think both goalies are still worked up from the 7-6 game. they just need to settle.

I know pat has sources, but I am gettng s frustrated not even hearing rumors about caps deals. hockeybuzz while completely unreliable ha mentioned every team this week except us! GMGM plays it close to the vest, but just a hisper of news would be fun.

Posted by: capscoach | February 20, 2011 6:07 PM | Report abuse


I don't think they claim Souray. If his contract ended after this year, then maybe. But all the reports list him as too slow and not good enough to play in the NHL. At $2.75M for next year that wouldn't be a risk worth taking.

They should have taken a run at M-A Bergeron when he was available(as I suggested) and use him like Tampa does, dressing a 7th D-man and using him for PP purposes.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 20, 2011 6:16 PM | Report abuse


The reason I say it is it could be tied to the Hemsky deal. The Caps saying we will claim him thereby you dont have to pay him as much. And then they make the trade for Hemsky, sending one of our D there.

It probably isnt going to happen, but at the same time I wouldnt be surprised if it does.

Posted by: ThePat | February 20, 2011 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Random thoughts:

1) The only way I want Souray is if you jointly move off Poti. The contracts match for next year just about and Souray gives grit and PP help that Poti doesn't.

2) The only way I want Kovalev is if it includes moving off Chimera.

3) A defenseman, unless his name is Bourque or Pronger, can't be expected to play the entire PP time and also lead the shutdown pair of D. We are throwing way too much on the shoulders of a rookie (Carlson). I know, I's just until Green comes back...but this situation really highlights the team's weaknesses on the blueline.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 20, 2011 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Here's a novel idea on how to fix our inept pp: disregard the fact we're on the pp and continue rolling the lines as normal. Dump and chase, cycle, or enter w/speed and possession, and see what happens for a few games. If we can best teams 5 on 5, I'm confident those same lines/pairings would do better 5 on 4 than the personnel comprising our present pp units/tactics.

The onus to produce w/a man advantage would be on the entire team, not just a select 8 or so players, and it could produce some extra motivation for the guys and their lines/pairings to "one-up" each other and really bring the team together. They might just loosen up and start having fun again, and I think it'd be worth a shot.

If nothing else, such a pp arrangement would give #4 a chance to pad his already gaudy offensive numbers.

Posted by: vermontcaps | February 20, 2011 6:26 PM | Report abuse

ThePat: Yes, I thought that maybe the claiming of Souray (and saving EDM roughly $3.3M between this year and next) could be part of a Caps-Oilers deal.

I seriously doubt though you could get Poti in that one.

But, if you send them Chimera, and then use Beagle, you save just about half the cost of Souray balance of this year and next.

Eakin, our #1, our #3, Chimera and Sloan and we claim Souray and they give us Penner and their #2.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 20, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

The reason I say it is it could be tied to the Hemsky deal. The Caps saying we will claim him thereby you dont have to pay him as much. And then they make the trade for Hemsky, sending one of our D there.

It probably isnt going to happen, but at the same time I wouldnt be surprised if it does.

Posted by: ThePat

The worry about that is what if the Oilers decide to back out after the Caps claim Souray. I understand your thinking on it, I just think it would be too risky.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 20, 2011 6:32 PM | Report abuse


While that is possible the fact our organization let them put Souray in a place where they didnt have to deal with him I doubt they'd end up backing out of a deal.

But like I said it probably isnt happening, just a weird hunch I have.

Posted by: ThePat | February 20, 2011 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Why are the Flames wearing rugby uniforms??


Posted by: joek443 | February 20, 2011 6:35 PM | Report abuse


I think it would be more likely Schultz. They need D help desperately. THey dont need F's and wouldnt want Poti back there, they have had him before.

Posted by: ThePat | February 20, 2011 6:36 PM | Report abuse


The biggest problem with Souray is that he is slow and the Caps already have enough slow D-men(Schultz, Erskine being incredibly slow, Hannan is pretty slow, and Alzner has average speed).

As much as people on here want to add grit, which I am fine with(I want to add Chris Neil). I think the Caps need to add a forward who is a good skater. Not just one line speed like Chimera but a good skater like MJ.

The Caps do have good size(although they aren't very physical), but they are pretty slow overall in team speed. Ovechkin has good speed. MJ is a very good skater. Semin has decent speed. Backstrom is average.

The only 3rd or 4th liner with good speed is Chimera, and we all know about him. His speed is also only straight ahead speed. He isn't very agile.

Stecekl can barely move, Hendricks and Bradley are average skaters. BGordon is slightly above average. Knuble is slow. Laich is average.

I would love for the Caps to get Chris Neil but I think the forward that the scoring forward that they get needs to be a good skater.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 20, 2011 6:40 PM | Report abuse

Eakin and Schultz for Penner makes sense, but if we claim Souray too then they have to take Chimera.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | February 20, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse


Not to be picky, but you forgot about MP, which i think is slightly above average in speed.

Chris Neil would be an interesting aqusition, He brings a lot of grit, hits a lot and can throw down, but right now he's averaging 4th line minutes at $2 mil/year and signed for two more years, which is too much for a 4th liner IMO.

I wish our third could be more of a shutdown line to face other teams topline, like against the Pens a couple years ago in the playoffs, with Bradley, Steckel and Laich. I'm not saying it has to be them, but i hope you get the idea.

Can we somehow lose Poti, i'd be okay with Souray on re-entry waiver, maybe dress 7 D like Tampa with Bergeron and only use him on the PP and some rare shifts.

Posted by: Walle | February 20, 2011 7:25 PM | Report abuse


You are right, I did forget about MP. I agree, he does have above average speed.

Posted by: sgm3 | February 20, 2011 7:57 PM | Report abuse

@BigMogiliny - I agree, it would be helpful to get a detailed analysis of the difference in the systems. From what i can tell, it's less about making several passes in the offensive zone, and more about dump and chase, and crashing the net. But, i've been scanning as well for an analysis and breakdown - i think some guy on ESPN did a Caps offensive analysis a few weeks ago, but you had to pay to read it.

Posted by: gs12 | February 20, 2011 8:16 PM | Report abuse

System change pretty simple. When puck is our end our forwards are much deeper. Go back and watch last year when the pick was in our end a the D showed any sign of posession out wingers were up the ice.
System not our O problem, it's the PP! If our PP was top 5 this year so would the goalscoring

Posted by: bricucci | February 20, 2011 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Here you go. This is a great post showing the system change between this year and last year with diagrams.

Posted by: savingfool | February 21, 2011 9:11 AM | Report abuse

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