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Posted at 12:08 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Capitals' scoring slump has Coach Bruce Boudreau looking for answers

By Katie Carrera

The Capitals took today off, but Coach Bruce Boudreau is in his office at Kettler Capitals Iceplex dissecting game film trying to see what might help his team score more goals.

Over the past nine games, which dates back to Dec. 15 against Anaheim, Washington has scored just 22 goals but held its opponents to just 14 against. While the low totals against -- an average of 1.5 goals per game -- are a quantifiable result of the Capitals' success in executing a full team defense recently, the lack of scoring is something they're not accustomed to.

"I'm a little baffled. Playing good defense should not do anything to take away from offense," Boudreau said. "The saying we have is, if we're in the best position for defense, we're in the best position for offense. I rack my brains an awful lot going over video to seeing if I can't find anything to help."

A large part of the scoring slump can easily be attributed to the mirroring discrepancy on special teams during the past nine games. While the penalty kill is thriving, successful in enduring 30 of the last 32 times shorthanded, the power play has scored just three times in 35 tries. And although it doesn't ease the frustration of the inability to score, a bright spot for Washington in its 1-0 overtime loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday was once again its penalty kill.

The Capitals did not allow the Lightning's potent power play, which entered the contest ranked fourth in the league, a goal in three attempts, even after Tampa Bay Coach Guy Boucher tried to overload the top unit in an effort to counteract Washington's stingy penalty kill.

"I don't know if we gave them a chance," Boudreau said of the penalty-killing effort Tuesday night. "They've been doing that for a couple weeks now. That's why I think our record is [5-0-2] in the past [seven] games. It certainly isn't the power play."

John Carlson and Karl Alzner led the team in shorthanded time against Tampa Bay, with 2:53 and 2:37 respectively, and the two were charged with guarding against the top line of Ryan Malone, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis when it remained intact.

"It's always good to see our penalty kill working," Alzner said. "We've had to change some of the things we do to play against some of these teams in Pittsburgh and Tampa just because they've got big guns on them. We've adapted really well and it's good to see we can change on the go."

By Katie Carrera  | January 5, 2011; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  Bruce Boudreau, Penalty kill, Power play, Tampa Bay Lightning  
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Next: Capitals defensemen John Carlson, Karl Alzner earning more responsibility

Comments

My response to an earlier thread, pushing for an immediate recall of Cody Eakin:

Eakin's not ready. In fact I am willing to bet we see two Caps prospects playing tonight who are well ahead of Eakin at this stage in their development:

Orlov, who has impressed everyone with his D, put up a ton of pts and looks to be a lock to make the all-tournament team, &
Kuznetzov, who almost single-handedly revived Russia from a lackluster death vs. Finland, put the team on his back and put them into the gold medal game.

Kuz impressed me when I saw him at Kettler this summer, and it appears playing against pros in the very good KHL has only improved his game - dude is nasty!

Posted by: Timbo_1 | January 5, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

haha, DJK is the answer for all of scoring problems!!!

Posted by: _stevo | January 5, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Sign Dmitri Orlov and stick him back on the point on the PP. He is tied for third in scoring in the Jr. World tournament. In 6 games in the tourney he has a goal and 8 assists. He is +9 so far and his goal was on the power play. Expect him to add to those numbers tonight in Buffalo.

Posted by: dull | January 5, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

haha, DJK is the answer for all of scoring problems!!!

Posted by: _stevo

Haha. I agree. We need some DJK!!!

Posted by: sgm3 | January 5, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Whatever you do, Bruce, don't move OV off of the point on the PP. There's probably no chance that his talent is wasted bombing low-percentage shots from above the circles.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 5, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

dump and chase hockey is a problem. Knuble tries to dump the puck and chase it, Backstrom and Ovechkin are passing it, dump and chase hockey doesn't win championships. Even Randy Carlysle Ducks used combination hockey in their Play off push. Porky Pig can be baffled as much as he wants, until he changes his system.

Posted by: beforeitstoolate | January 5, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

They couldn't call up Eakin anyway. It'll be nice to see him on the bears again though at the end of the season.

Posted by: GFisher1 | January 5, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

@dull

do you realize how small the percentage of players is that can make the jump straight from juniors to NHL! We can't rush Eakin, Orlov, and Kuzstensov b/c they look good in juniors...when they look good in Hershey we can consider it.

Posted by: capscoach | January 5, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Do the Caps make a claim on Marc-Andre Bergeron? I know it won't happen but he is exactly what the PP needs. Great, left-handed point man that would allow Ovie to go to the half borads.

Unfortunately he really isn't very good at anything else. He would almost have to be used as a 12th forward who sees no time at forward, so the team has 6 D-men dressed.

Ovie needs to go to the half boards where he can roam a little more and be more dangerous. However, who do you replace him with at the point? The Caps don't really have another decent point man. Carlson may be one in a few years, but he isn't there yet. His passing isn't consistently accurate enough yet and his shot isn't huge or anything.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 5, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

How much time do Ovi and the coaching staff spend together in the video room? That's what I wanna know more than anything.

Quite frankly when was the last time did we get these behind the scene in-depth articles on here? All we get is a bunch of cliche-ridden player interviews which I never read.

If some of these guys played as well as they talked, there wouldn't be any problems with anything.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

thank goodness you know better than the actual NHL players!
-----------------------

LOL you disappoint me, is that the best you can come up with?

Gee do you ever question our president? do you know better than him???

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

@joek443

you do realize that fans on every team bi**h and moan about the same things you do for their players. No matter what team you loved you could and would find things to worry about and complain.

Questioning work ethic is ok...but assuming is another thing...I mean what I got out of the 24/7 series was that these players put in a lot more time than I thought...much more than just a 60 minute practice. Ovie was with the trainers a lot, and when I cut off Laich earlier in the week, well he was leaving the parking garage almost 2 hours after practice ended...I had met up with a friend and gotten lunch.

Posted by: capscoach | January 5, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

For the love of mercy, please stick ovechkin in the slot on the power play. Ovi playing the point is a failed experiment. The Caps have plenty of other plays who can also not score from the point on the power play.

Posted by: stevie7 | January 5, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@joek

don't pull the patriotic civc duty bit on me...I have a degree in history and government. It is a weak argument.

What you are doing is the equivalent of someone who took an anatomy class in high school diagnosing a friend with cancer even when the oncologist tells you she is fine.

There is also a difference between questioning and pretending you know.

Posted by: capscoach | January 5, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

@sgm3

You mention a left handed shot on the point of the PP....as crazy as this might sound, they could try Chimera there. Most of his goals come from rocket slap shots above the circle on breaks. If the puck gets fumbled out of the zone, he has the speed to prevent any SH opportunity. At this point they should be willing to try anything. Ovechkin-Backstrom-Fehr-Chimera-Green...then 2nd group Laich-Knuble-Semin-MaJo(at the point)-Carlson. Worth a look in my opinion.

Posted by: ThePat | January 5, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

The Caps have plenty of other plays who can also not score from the point on the power play.

Posted by: stevie7

Who?

Posted by: sgm3 | January 5, 2011 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The Caps don't really have another decent point man. Carlson may be one in a few years, but he isn't there yet. His passing isn't consistently accurate enough yet and his shot isn't huge or anything.
--------------------------

Actually I like his slapshot better than Green's, he has more of a compact motion which enables him to release the puck quicker than Green who takes too big/slow of a windup.

But having said that, I wouldn't burden Carlson with PP duties just yet. He already has a lot of responsibilities playing against the top lines and on the PK.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

What you are doing is the equivalent of someone who took an anatomy class in high school diagnosing a friend with cancer even when the oncologist tells you she is fine.
--------------------------------------

LOL that's about the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard on here.

By that logic, we should NEVER question anything about any moves the coaches make... do you really wanna go down that road???

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

But having said that, I wouldn't burden Carlson with PP duties just yet. He already has a lot of responsibilities playing against the top lines and on the PK.
________________________________________

So are the Caps a true Cup contender or is this another rebuild?

Posted by: ablake70 | January 5, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

So this is the teacher in me, and probably a really dumb idae, but...

what if BB told the players to record the game on their home tvs (they have the next day off) and make a report of what they individually did right and wrong?

It is one thing to be told what you are doing right and wrong, but another thing to evaluate yourself and figure it out on your own.

Posted by: capscoach | January 5, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

You mention a left handed shot on the point of the PP....as crazy as this might sound, they could try Chimera there. Most of his goals come from rocket slap shots above the circle on breaks. If the puck gets fumbled out of the zone, he has the speed to prevent any SH opportunity. At this point they should be willing to try anything. Ovechkin-Backstrom-Fehr-Chimera-Green...then 2nd group Laich-Knuble-Semin-MaJo(at the point)-Carlson. Worth a look in my opinion.

Posted by: ThePat

Hmmm. I have to admit that I never thought about that, but the reasons you pointed out make a lot of sense. Chimera has a rocket of a shot and his speed would be useful in preventing SH opportunties. Chimera's potential negative would be his passing ability.

But I like the creativity of this idea and there is sound reasoning on why it could potentially be succesful. I would like to see it tried.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 5, 2011 12:59 PM | Report abuse

@ablake

every team that doesn't win the cup is technically "rebuilding"

we are sort of rebuilding, just not from scratch...that does not absolve the team of responsibility if they make another early playoff exit, but we do have a lot of guys still learning...though Alzner and Carlson have looked great lately!

Posted by: capscoach | January 5, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

@beforeitstoolate
Completly agree with you.

Posted by: Randolph2 | January 5, 2011 1:04 PM | Report abuse

LOL if you put Chimera on the point, that'll be like SHORT-HANDED goal city!!!!

The man has the hands of a brick-layer, he doesn't belong anywhere on the PP, especially not on the point.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 1:05 PM | Report abuse

@joek

with his speed, I doubt mayn shorties would get by him.

Posted by: capscoach | January 5, 2011 1:07 PM | Report abuse

@ablake70

Rebuild yes.Contender???

Posted by: Randolph2 | January 5, 2011 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I agree, don't try to move Ovie. The only spot he can score from is the left circle so, no reason he should be anywhere near there on the PP (I still think the Caps need to fire BB).

Posted by: chriscaps | January 5, 2011 1:10 PM | Report abuse

Curious to know what your thoughts on possible deadline acquisitions for this team is.

Personally, I don't see GMGM going out and pulling a Corvo, Belly, Walker, Juice shopping spree this year.

Who do you think we may target if anyone?

Posted by: Jordan_Kitts | January 5, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

capscoach

True. The number of rookies on the Caps roster just feels like GMGM has written off the season. Alzner-Carlson have played well to this point, but it's a long road to April.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 5, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I'd try putting Backstrom on the point before any forward, never been a fan of having extra forwards on PP.

I think Pitt used to put Ron Francis on the point back in the day, that's about the only kinda forward I'd think about using on the point... a good two-way center.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

"Who?"

---

Isn't that the point? Anyone. Anyone on this team can *not* score from the point, why are we wasting OV up there?

Shoot, give me a pair of skates and a stick and I can not score from the point all day.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 5, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

@joek

thats fine that you think that, nothing else is working right now. So I made a suggestion and provided reasoning behind it. If you dont like it come up with your own observation of something that might work. Rather than just saying Ovi needs to be off the point, Carlson would have too much responsibility. You run out of capable players with a good hard shot pretty fast.

Posted by: ThePat | January 5, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

I cannot believe that those of you that dislike Semin want to keep saying he has been here and has not learned English. Are you all really that blind or honestly believe that the rest of the Capitals have learned Russian. Semin holds regular conversations with his team mates. Even yesterday during the warmup he and Carlson were shooting the bull and laughing. I guess Carlson is fluent in Russian.

Semin has chosen not to do interviews in English because he doesn't want the english speaking media to twist his words. He did an interview after a practice at the Winter Classic. The young woman asked all the questions in English, and was not speaking slowly. He responded in Russian and she translated.

Posted by: fanohock1 | January 5, 2011 1:13 PM | Report abuse

@jordan

I think/hope GMGM goes for just one thing...a very solid 2nd line center. that is really the only thing we need.

The scoring slump is a team issue right now, not an individual one, so bringing in a high scoring forward won't help...we'll either figure out how to score as a team or we won't.

The D is really starting to look good...no need to go there.

2nd line center!

Posted by: capscoach | January 5, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I hate the nickname "MaJo." His name is Mar'-cus. The nickname should be MarJo, which both fits better with the sound of his name, and sounds better as a nickname.

I've been arguing to take Ovechkin off the point for about a year. I'd also take Green off the point on the PP.

Posted by: rw-c | January 5, 2011 1:16 PM | Report abuse

@joek

Thats fine, I'd consider Backstrom on the point as well. Notice I said put MaJo there on the 2nd unit for that very reason, a good 2 way C and he can skate.

Posted by: ThePat | January 5, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Looks like BB suffers from favoritism. There are players he likes. And others who he can blame for everything. Guess who?

Posted by: Randolph2 | January 5, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

I have an idea...make the games "Optional"...therefore Ovechkin and Semin won't show up...and we can then stop talking about "Ovie's slump" and "Semin's laziness"....

and start talking about how the caps are 1 point out of the lead in the East and how Varly was 1 Poti away from his second shutout in 3 games...

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 5, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Actually I'd try putting Johansson on the point as well... he's a good two-way center with a pretty good shot.

And he's faster than Backs so that's a plus.

Posted by: joek443 | January 5, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

No Second Line center and our Captain is missing.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 5, 2011 1:22 PM | Report abuse

I feel like MoJo is only 1 link away from being a very good NHLer...unfortunately I think it might be size (so we would have to wait)He seems to do the right things, but it is rarely clicking for him

This offseason he needs to put on some muscle.

Posted by: capscoach | January 5, 2011 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Get Ovi off the point - he should be on the wing just like Stamkos - who has the most pp goals.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | January 5, 2011 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone thinks that perhaps the Caps should move back to a more offensive system. After all, if memory serves, they have been shut out five times, scored one goal six times and scored two goals six times. Winning only one of these 17 games. There is still half a season left.
The offensive system worked well last season. Just saying.

Posted by: instinct227 | January 5, 2011 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Anyone think Semin is slumping on purpose? Maybe he doesn't want to be traded, and how many teams will be interested in him now...esp. since he struggled in the playoffs :)

Posted by: capscoach | January 5, 2011 1:35 PM | Report abuse

@Caps Coach...

Semin is not that smart.

And if he doesn't pick it up...we should keep A Gordon in the lineup and give Sloan a new best russian friend...

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 5, 2011 1:37 PM | Report abuse

@instinct227:

I'd like to see them stay with the defensive approach for the rest of the year and see if they can figure out how to start to get the offense going again. The playoff results the last 3 years argue for trying something different.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | January 5, 2011 1:44 PM | Report abuse

capscoach

Didn't you know that Semin is stupid? He's been top 20 in points the last two years, one of the team's top defensive forwards and given the responsibility to carry the 2nd line with a rookie and a marginal 2nd liner. He's just the dumbest guy in the NHL.

Posted by: ablake70 | January 5, 2011 1:45 PM | Report abuse

"one of the team's top defensive forwards"

---

Come on, you can't be serious.

Most PIM != top defensive forward.

Posted by: VTDuffman | January 5, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

new thread

Posted by: PhilR | January 5, 2011 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom need to adjust to the more defensive approach. No more "run and gun" (I cringed when the Lightning coach last night said we played "our game" and not trading chances which is what the Caps wanted). Read this excellent analysis:

Caps European trio hurt most by style change
http://www.turnersportsdesk.com/2011/01/Caps-European-trio-hurt-most-by-style-change.aspx

Posted by: jmarks09 | January 5, 2011 3:42 PM | Report abuse

They should bring back Nylander, lol.

Posted by: RuskiSi | January 5, 2011 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, I think they are missing split second opportunities. The goalies have been that point 5 of a second faster then the shot. I've seen it time and time again where Ovie, Semin or Backstrom collect the puck and take too much time figuring out where to put it.

Posted by: RuskiSi | January 5, 2011 3:54 PM | Report abuse

First of all I agree with the part that Dumping the puck all game doesn't work. What happened to the pretty tick tac passing we use to see, now it dump and chase battle on the boards win it to the piont take one shot and done. These players are all professionals they will score no matter where they are on the ice but you have to keep thier feet and the PUCK moving from side to side as you enter the zone instead of just throwing it in. Bruce there is no reason you can't play offense like they were put up a goal or two and then play their D. Sorry for the pun but Bruce I believe you are on thin ICE it's not hard.

Posted by: fs02 | January 5, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Goal in OT scored because Backstrom had a weak back check!!!

Posted by: unknown69 | January 5, 2011 5:04 PM | Report abuse

What will help more than anything else? Consistent lines. Boudreau claims to be seeking the magical perfect combinations but rather than keep lines stable following wins he continues to tinker throughout the course of games.

Ron Wilson's undoing in DC had a lot to do with his constant tinkering negating the ability of the players to easily or correctly predict their linemates positions and movements and thus ability to make plays or complete passes.

I'd also put this on the primarily North-South attack that fires away on poor shooting angles and rarely musters a coordinated forecheck. The team doesn't exhibit much creativity offensively and their predictability limits them to high volumes of low percentage chances rather than fewer better chances.

I'd say that they need to skate more with and without the puck where both passers and receivers are moving to create lanes and the guys in front of the net need to do fewer flybys and instead float around crease area in front of the net.

Posted by: born_rpm | January 5, 2011 5:17 PM | Report abuse

It looks like Backstrom, Semin and Ovie are all hesitating a little on offense as their scoring slumps have extended. They certainly have had a lot of good chances to score goals in recent games. I don't think changing up the line is the answer. Backstrom needs to shoot more often when he is open, particularly on the power play, and not worry about getting Ovie going. Possibly switching Ovie to RW might also give him some better scoring chances.

Regarding the PP, I still can't understand why we're using Ovie at the left point. Not only is it harder for him to get off any shots but it effects the ability to move the puck from point to point. BB needs to try a lefthanded shooting defenseman at the point on the PP, possibly Poti. The current system is broken and BB needs to switch things up even if means not having Semin and Ovechkin on the same power play unit.

Posted by: wizfan89 | January 5, 2011 5:56 PM | Report abuse

First off. Semin needs to stop taking low percentage shots when there are two guys open in front of the cage. Ovechkin and Semin took way too many low percentage shots instead of trying pass. With guys collapsing on Ovechkin he needs to look to pass instead of shooting all the time. He starting to play like Bondra.

Posted by: shoreterp1 | January 5, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

I love the new emphasis on defense but I hate the move to put Ovechkin at point on power plays. He should be put closer to distract the goalie and defense, or to have a better chance picking up some garbage goals. This is definitely one of Boudreau's dumbest moves.

Posted by: JohnWWW | January 5, 2011 8:11 PM | Report abuse

@instinct227 wrote:

Does anyone thinks that perhaps the Caps should move back to a more offensive system. After all, if memory serves, they have been shut out five times, scored one goal six times and scored two goals six times. Winning only one of these 17 games. There is still half a season left.
The offensive system worked well last season. Just saying.

----------------

Disagree. Ever since the Montreal series teams have been shutting our offensive system down. Adjusting to a more flexible defensively sound system is good. Thats said, BB and our scoring lines need to figure out how to create offense within this new system, but so far they have come up short.

I think we are headed in the right direction and if we keep a disciplined approach to the new system, we will be in better shape for the post season and with any luck the offense will be on the upswing by then.

Posted by: congero | January 5, 2011 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Interesting how "hot goalie" Roloson all of a sudden gave up 5 goals on 23 shots last night. Guess Pens don't have problems with "hot" goalies.

Flash has 7 goals and 9 assists in 16 games with Avs. I'll let you stat geeks do the research, but I believe that's more goals than Ovi, Backi, Semin comibined over the same period.

Tuesday's game was sooooo booooorrrrriiing. Let's run and gun and take our chances.

Posted by: hockeypuck2 | January 6, 2011 10:24 AM | Report abuse

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