The Caps have not had a winning record for a week since Week 16 (1-0-1). In the five weeks that ended with Week 21 the Caps were 6-8-2. So many chances wasted. This week it was wasting home ice advantage. In an arena in which the Caps came into the week 20-8-2, they split two games and gained their only win on scoring two goals in the last 3:29 of regulation to tie, then winning in overtime against a team (the New York Islanders) that was only 6-6-1 when they visited Washington. The Caps were then pasted by the New Jersey Devils, 5-0 in the only other game of the week. Frankly, this week was a set up, and the Caps gagged on it.
Offense: 1.50/game (season: 2.67/rank: 13th)
In 121:35 of hockey for the week, three goals, all in a 5:04 span covering the end of regulation and overtime against the Islanders. Three goals on 57 shots – 5.3 percent. Their shooting percentage isn’t much better since February 1st (7.2 percent). As Week 21 ended, this was a team that couldn’t shoot a puck into Chesapeake Bay from a boat.
Defense: 3.50/game (season: 2.81/rank: 21st)
The defense was not bad for the week, at least in limiting opponents’ attempts at the net. In the two games the Caps allowed a total of 84 shot attempts. There have been individual games when they allowed totals in that neighborhood. The Caps allowed only a total – a total, mind you – of ten shots on goal in the first period of the two games. And, in five of the six periods of regulation they allowed fewer than ten shots on goal.
That which has been a – if not the – strength of the Caps this season let them down some this week. Michal Neuvirth was the goalie of record in the two games. He had a decent game against the Islanders, allowing a goal when his defense stood around, then allowed another on a deflection. Against the Devils, though… He allowed one when he could not squeeze the pads together on an Ilya Kovalchuk drive, and Zach Parise knocked in the loose puck. He allowed another when he was flat on the ice after stopping a Dainius Zubrus shot, but Zubrus walked around him to stuff in the rebound. There was enough bad play in front of him to allow two 2-on-1’s for scores (one shorthanded), but it was not a good end of the week for Neuvirth.
Power Play: 0-for-6/0.0 percent (season: 16.5 percent/rank: 19th)
No goals on six shots on six power plays covering 11:30 of ice time. Since going 2-for-4 against Tampa Bay on January 13th, the Caps finished the week 6-for-65 (9.2 percent) over their last 22 games. And, they allowed a shorthanded goal. Pitiful.
Penalty Killing: 4-for5/80.0 percent (season: 80.8percent/rank: 22nd)
What can you say… the Caps are an 80 percent penalty killing team. The object of the exercise then has to be to keep the other team from getting power plays, and allowing only five power plays in two games has to qualify as a success. But here is a chilling thought… the Caps are only 15-13-2 when allowing three or fewer power plays. More wasted good effort.
Paying the Price: 63 hits/20 blocked shots (season rank: 14th/7th)
That the Caps had only 20 blocked shots in two games is the product of allowing so few shot attempts. Again, just as the Caps had more than a few single games with shot attempts near the 84-attempt mark they had for the two-game week, so the Caps have had a lot of games – too many, perhaps – in which they recorded 20-plus blocked shots.
Faceoffs: 53-for-100/53.0 percent (season: percent/rank: 14th)
The Caps had a good week overall, but it was another tale of two zones. They were 20-for-36 in the offensive end (55.6 percent), but only 9-for-27 in the defensive end (33.3 percent). Of the big four taking draws – Jeff Halpern, Brooks Laich, Manthieu Perreault, and Marcus Johansson – it was not a bad week. Johansson, getting a lot of time on the top line, was 50 percent in the offensive end. And he was the worst of the four in the offensive end. But Mathieu Perreault was the only one among them to be as much as 50 percent in the defensive end, and he took only two draws there.
Not much to say here. It was a week played rather close to the vest for all the teams involved. There were only 73 total turnovers among the four teams (counting the Caps twice) in the two games, not an especially large number for more than 120 minutes of hockey. But it is better than being on the minus side.
Back to the calendar. Five straight weeks without a winning week. It is looking more and more like what Pierre LeBrun said of the Caps at the trading deadline when they made no moves:
“This just isn’t their year. One big trade isn’t going to put the Caps over the top and make them contenders. One big trade isn’t going to clear star center Nicklas Backstrom of his concussion symptoms.”
The Caps had a 1-1-0 week. They have had a total of six winning weeks out of 19 since their seven-game winning streak to start the season. They are 20-18-4 since Dale Hunter took over. You keep waiting for that switch to flip on, but nothing is happening.