Capitals are still searching for balance
As the NHL season nears the All-Star break, the Caps seem to be a team that is continuing to improve with every game. Even with their latest hot streak, this team still is not there yet and these guys understand clearly what their major challenge is moving into the second half of the season.
They will tell you it's balance. For so long this team has been known for its explosive offensive firepower. They were known for scoring quickly and destroying teams when they had power plays.
But while dominating on the offensive side of the ice at times, the Caps' defense was shaky and the team's inability to execute penalty kills successfully became evident last season. So that's what they focused on in the offseason.
General Manager George McPhee made some offseason and in-season moves, and Coach Bruce Boudreau improved the team's strategy on defense.
This season the Capitals have been very successful with penalty kills and on defense they've been better. Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov have been so impressive between the pipes that it's a constant battle as to who will be the mainstay. For now, it's Varlamov.
But with all the success on defense, the identity of this team is scoring goals, and that's just not happening this season. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin have struggled terribly to find the net this season and their goals and points are down dramatically from last season.
Mike Green is a weekly guest on my radio show, The LaVar Arrington Show with Chad Dukes on 106.7 FM, and I recently asked him what the team's biggest concern is at this point in the season.
His answer was balance. His assessment of the the team was that they know they can score and they know that they can play defense, but it seems that they do only one at a time. They are either strong on defense with high success on penalty kills but not good on power plays, or the other way around. Mike made it clear that the Caps are working on finding balance on both sides of the ice.
It will be critical for this team to address that balance issue during the rest of the regular season. If the Caps are able to find that balance they are all talking about, this team will become more dangerous than it already is right now. The Caps will need to put it all together if they are to make a strong run into the playoffs.
| January 11, 2011; 3:53 PM ET
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