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After mixed-bag road trip, Caps looking for balance

Morning Roundup

While a confidence-boosting, 7-2 victory in Calgary on Saturday night ended a three-game road trip on a high note, it also highlighted the inconsistency in the Caps' play early this season because it followed a game in which they could barely handle the puck, let alone score.

Now that the Capitals are clamping down on defense -- they've allowed an average of 2.27 goals per game, down from 2.77 in 2009-10 -- they need to figure out how to hang onto the high-scoring style they've become known for.

"There should be a balance. It shouldn't be a fine line between the two, but right now it kind of is with us," center David Steckel said. "But by the same token, we still haven't given up many goals, our defense is improving but we're still giving up chances and the goalie's coming up huge. We're not trying for a trade-off but I think we just need to bear down individually a little more to have the type of game we want."

Click here to read Katie's wrap-up of the games in Carolina, Minnesota and Calgary, and a few additional Monday morning links are right this way:

The Caps started out slow against the Flames in the first period. "The other 40 minutes? Yeah, I think that's what we wanted," David Steckel said.

Neil Greenberg explains that Alex Ovechkin could be scoring less because he's not taking quality shots.

The Caps sent Brian Fahey and Mathieu Perreault back to Hershey yesterday, which probably means someone is healthy again or will be in time for Wednesday's game against Toronto. Stay tuned for injury updates after this morning's practice.

Happy belated Halloween from a bunch of dancing, singing, zombiefied hockey players. (RMNB)

Could Ovechkin have beaten Bill Mosienko's 21-second hat trick? We'll never know. (Montreal Gazette via Alex Ovetjkin)

The Caps seem to be taking some advice they didn't know they got from Ed Olczyk, who told The Hockey News in the preseason that Washington needed to learn to play more than their flashy, high-scoring "one way and one way only."

George McPhee and some angry Bears fans were on hand in Hershey to watch a 6-2 loss at the hands of the Baby Pens. (Sweetest Hockey on Earth)

Ted Leonsis is sick of the "Bitter. Sour. Dyspeptic. Random. Disrespectful" emails from Caps fans during games, and is "shutting down access to me from certain individuals via email." (Ted's Take)

Scary hockey fans:

By Lindsay Applebaum  | November 1, 2010; 6:20 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Roundup  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Statistical analysis: Is Alex Ovechkin giving luck a chance?
Next: Practice update: Could Tom Poti be ready to return?


We Have all been sentenced to "Life without Perreault".

Posted by: nimrodrsp | November 1, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Bagher | November 1, 2010 8:21 AM | Report abuse

Great conversation I missed while out with my kids trick or treating and driving back from DC to the capital of boring, central PA (aka Pennslytuckey).

@Tom, part of the problem with not having a net presence from Laich and Knuble is a lack of possession time in the opposition's zone. The Caps are shooting a lot of low percentage shots from the outside and the unscreened goaltender is either gobbling up the puck or deflecting the shot to his defenders in the corner. The Caps forecheck is not getting the job done for the second chances with a big forward parked in the crease, creating sight-line problems and waiting for juicy rebounds.

I also agree that when teams are stupid enough to play firewagon hockey with the Caps (e.g. Carolina and Calgary), they will lose much more often than they win. But the teams (e.g. Boston and Atlanta) clogging the slot, fore-checking and cycling (esp. with OV's line out), and dropping all 5 back while stacking the blueline are winning more often than the Caps.

I hope BB can adjust the Caps' style to play against different styles and get his players to buy into grind games. If the Caps get good at grind games, their likelihood for going deep into the playoffs goes up greatly.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | November 1, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I'm still trying to determine why Sutter chose to play a run and gun style of hockey against the Caps, he had to know it was going to come back and bite him in the ass. Calgary has the squad that could have played the Wild/Bruin style and yet chose not to, I am far from complaining here because that game was fun as hell to watch!

Hope they take these days off and work on the dump and chase and cycling game as well as getting traffic to the net. If they can tie together 5-6 consistent performances I will be happy and NO MORE slow starts!!

Posted by: PhilR | November 1, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Amen, Brother Phil, Amen!

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | November 1, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Ted Leonsis is sick of the "Bitter. Sour. Dyspeptic. Random. Disrespectful" emails from Caps fans during games, and is "shutting down access to me from certain individuals via email."

cstanton1, cheef & sc1907?

Posted by: Redwolf1 | November 1, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Many of the problems the Caps offense is the defense. I don't know how many times I've seen the defense spending extra time gathering the puck and miss a key outlet to start a rush. Having Green back and heathly helps. Notice the great oulet by Ovie on the 1st goal in Calgary. If that is Fahey, he fumbles the puck, recovers it and this play becomes another "dump and chase". I hope our thin defense stays healthy!

Posted by: chriscaps | November 1, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Maybe tmac, joek and underpanties.

Posted by: nimrodrsp | November 1, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Agreed Chris, If the Caps defense or backchecking forwards (not enough of the latter in my opinion) cannot gain possession and get the puck into the other team's defensive zone with strong possession, then it does not really matter what the Caps do. Normally, you have to have the puck to score a goal and keep the bisquit out of the net. Bradley's hustle/forecheck goal is the rare exception. Then again, a healthy forecheck creates good chances.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | November 1, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I was out west for Saturday's Caps game and watched the replay on the NHL Network Sunday morning. It was the CBC broadcast and I was surprised just how much the announcers respected Ovechkin's ability to take over a game. During pregame they talked about the Caps first line being in a slump and that Calgary better hope they don't come out of it. When Backstrom scored on the bang bang passing play they said, Uh-oh, even though the Caps were still down. It was nice to see a different broadcast because in our market the NHL Network, even the rebroadcast, is blacked out here in Washington. The Versus crew is always drooling about Crosby, Richards, and now Stamkos. It is the same story every day on there. The CBC studio guys were funny too. Milbury was not happy with the outcome.

Oh, and I cannot believe the first goal wasn't overturned. Jokinen not only had a distinct kicking motion but the outside of his right foot was facing the net and he opened his stance to redirect the puck. The NHL is very good about making the right call when the puck has crossed the line because that is black and white. However, the distinct kicking motion decisions are getting as bad as the NFL decisions after replay. What I mean is, the decision on the ice is usually not overturned. Of course whether or not that was a kick is my personal opinion.

Posted by: fanohock1 | November 3, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

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