F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 10/05/13 at 11:28 PM ET
The Washington Capitals took a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars Saturday night, dropping them to 1-2-0 on the season. Yet again, the Capitals' even strength play continues to suffer, with their lone strike tonight coming on the power play. Honestly, was not a fun game to watch, but on to the reCap:
Washington Goals: Ovechkin PP 4 (Green Johansson)
Braden Holtby: LOSS; 19 Saves; 2 Goals
Dallas Goals: Cole 1 (Seguin, Benn); Chiasson 2 (Eakin, Benn)
Kari Lehtonen: WIN; 25 Saves; 1 Goal
As mentioned above, the Capitals' even-strength play continued to struggle. They did manage 20 shots at even strength, but only 9(!) came from forwards. That is inexcusable given the skill of this team's forwards. John Erskine of all people had the same number of shots as Alexander Ovechkin, but actually outshot Alex at even strength. And that doesn't include Erskine's shot that hit the post.
While the even-strength play sucks, the Caps scored on the power play for the third consecutive game. Alexander Ovechkin converted on the first power play of the game to give the Caps an early 1-0 lead. Ovechkin later has a similar shot hit the post and somehow the puck never made it across the line.
For the second time this season, the Caps had a power play late in the game while trailing. And for the second time, they failed to score. Tyler Seguin's delay of game penalty sent the Caps to the extra man (really 2 extra men with the goalie pulled) with 35 seconds remaining. An early clear made the situation a big more difficult, but it became worse when the Caps allowed Vernon Fiddler to pressure them into burning about 10 seconds below their own net. By the time the Caps got it back to the Dallas zone, there was less than 10 seconds remaining. Even with no time, they still managed to get a high-percentage scoring chance through Grabovski.
The Capitals did actually score to take a 2-1 lead, only to have the goal overturned following a referee conference on incidental contact grounds. It was absolutely the correct call as Nicklas Backstrom simultaneously batted the puck into net and kind of cross checked Lehtonen in the head. My one issue is that it appeared that the referee originally ruled it a goal. They did not do a video review on it, as incidental contact is not able to be video reviewed. Instead, the referees huddled together and simply overruled the goal. To me, it's a weird grey area.
John Erskine had a rather interesting game. On the plus side, he racked up 4 shots on goal (and a post shot) and he started an odd-man rush upon leaving the penalty box. On the bad side, he looked rough on both Dallas goals.
- On the first, there was a miscommunication between him and Carlson. As Carlson moved to the board to pressure Seguin, Erskine made the right move back towards the net. The problem is that he completely failed to notice Erik Cole sitting in the slot uncovered. Cole would score less than a second late.
- On the second goal, Erskine looked like he had no idea what to do. After Beagle and Erat failed to get the puck deep into the Dallas zone, a 3-on-2 was launched the other way. Erskine could not decide whether to pressure the high man (Chiasson) or defend the possible pass to Eakin. That left Erskine doing neither. Chiasson sent a pass to Eakin, who one timed it and Chiasson continued through to knock home the rebound
Speaking of posts, the Caps hit four posts tonight: Fehr, Ovechkin (PP), Erskine, and Laich(SH).
Steve Oleksy made his debut tonight in place of the injured Jack Hillen. Jack Hillen underwent surgery to repair a fractured tibial plateau. Oleksy's insertion into the lineup resulted in a rare defensive pairing with two right handed shots. Oleksy looked good tonight. Didn't make too many mistakes. Given Oates' desire to always have a leftie and a rightie, it will be interesting to see whether it is Oleksy or Carrick that gives way next week.
Speaking of Carrick, he has amassed a three-game penalty streak.
As has been the case in the first two games, the fourth line continues to see limited ice time. This is not a big deal most of the time, but Adam Oates has always been a coach who likes to roll his lines well enough that even fouth liners get 10-12 minutes. The biggest issue is that Marty Erat is not in a position that allows him to use his strengths. He has voiced his concerns and the Caps really don't need a discontent player making $4.5 million. It's even more baffling that somebody with Erat's skill set was on the bench late in the game, while Jason Chimera was in the game.
I'm not saying this is something big, but Tom Wilson skated only one shift in the third period. Near the end of that shift, he dumped the puck in the zone, but took a huge hit from Brendan Dillon. Erat and Beagle, his linemates, would come out for another shift, but Wilson would not.
The Caps will now get four days off before welcoming the Carolina Hurricanes into Verizon to start off a five-game homestand that also includes the Avalanche and the Rangers. They have to solve these even strength problems over these next few days of practice.
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Welcome to the home of the F Street Faithful, run by Matthew Tate. This is a go-to blog for all things related to the Washington Capitals. The F Street Faithful is 5% news and 95% breaking down the news.
In the past I have written for several other sports blogs as well as the college newspaper while at York College of Pennsylvania. I am a graduate of York College of Pennsylvania but am based out of Southern Maryland.
You can follow me on twitter @FStreetTate but I must warn that I do tweet about more than hockey. You can also e-mail me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.