F Street Faithful
by Matthew Tate on 01/20/13 at 11:16 AM ET
The other day, I noted that there were just too many new faces on this Caps’ team and not enough time for them to learn a new system. Tonight, it seemed truer than I ever thought it was as they were doubled up by the Tampa Bay Lighting 6-3. Let’s get to the notes and breakdown.
Tampa Bay Goal: Eric Brewer (1) from Carle, St. Louis
This was really unfortunate for the Caps. They had carried the majority of the play up to this point. It was even the first shot that Braden Holtby had to face. Marcus Johansson gave Brewer way too much space as he sent a one-timer past Holtby’s glove. He was partially screened by Pouliout, but it is one that he will probably want back.
Washington Goal: Joel Ward (1) from Wolski and Poti
This goal sums up the problems the Caps power play had most of last season. The first unit struggles to get any chances, and the second unit does things the right way. When Poti collected the puck down low, he had no chance to score, but he still threw the puck to the front of the net. It ended up bouncing off of Wolski and Ward just cleaned up the garbage.
Tampa Bay Goal: Lecavalier (1) from Aulie
Looking back, this goal should have put all fans on warning that the Caps’ defense just hasn’t gotten the system yet. As Lecavalier controls the puck in the corner, Jack Hill cheats over and is completely oblivious that Teddy Purcell has gained separation from Hendricks and is wide open in front of the net. Hillen fails to cut off the pass and the Caps are lucky to watch as Purcell finds the post. As a result Hillen, Holtby, and Hendricks are all down and out. Aulie fails to get the puck over Holtby, but Lecavalier makes no mistake. It is somewhat comical to watch as 5 of the 6 Capitals end up on the ice.
Washington Goal: Ward (2) from Chimera and Carlson
While the blueline clearly struggled to pick up the new defensive scheme, they understand jumping into the rush. John Carlson charges the net, drawing a penalty in the process. Chimera picks up the loose puck in the corner, feeds Ward in front, who promptly goes backhand forehand as he collects his first multi-goal game as Capital.
Tampa Bay Goal: St. Louis (1) from Lecavalier and Conacher
It is basically déjà vu to the start of the Lecavalier goal. Lecavalier escapes Green in the corner and feeds St. Louis who has gotten behind both Brouwer and Carlson. It’s essentially a tap-in for St. Louis. Like the previous goal, the defender (Carlson) fails to cut-off the pass and the back-checking forward fails to hold the man.
Washington Goal: Wolski (1) from Ribeiro and Hamrlik
Wolski goes from dummy to hero in the matter of seconds on this goal. As he enters the zone, he attempts to more around two defenders and fails miserably. Stamkos attempts a quick pass up the ice, but Hamrlik’s stick keeps it in the zone. Ribeiro makes some nifty moves to get a shot past Hedman. Lindback makes the easy save, but leaves the puck in the slot for Wolski, who blows past St. Louis and collects his first goal as a Cap. Plays likes that can help him regain his form from his early days in Colorado.
Tampa Bay Goal: St. Louis (2) from Stamkos and Purcell
This is a combination of poorly timed penalties and failed clears. With Perreault already off for a clear-cut tripping penalty, Backstrom fails to control his stick and is soon off for tripping. After a failed clear, St. Louis sends a pass to Stamkos who bumps it right back and St. Louis one-times it to the back of the net. To be fair, most teams are not going to keep the Lightning from converting 5-on-3. The unfortunate part is that the Caps had the chance to clear and chose to attempt a carry as opposed to just firing the puck 200 feet. It also isn’t going to help when you have two of your defenders and two of the opposition skaters in your goalie’s line of sight.
Tampa Bay Goal: Conacher (1) from Purcell
As is the case almost every year, rookie’s frequently get their first tally against the Caps. Conacher, who had already recorded an assists earlier, joined the group as he cashed in on a 3-on-1. I don’t know how Poti and Green got put together as a defensive pairing, but it doesn’t even look good on paper. In real life, Poti gets caught pressing in the neutral zone, Green gets gassed by Purcell, and the puck is in the net. The only thing more laughable than Green and Poti together is Marcus Johansson’s “attempt” at a backcheck. I am slowly starting to think MoJo will never be what the Caps thought he would.
Tampa Bay Goal: Brewer (2) from Purcell and Stamkos
The Caps should have already been picking the puck out of their net as they left Stamkos all alone. Luckily for them, Stamkos was feeling generous and fed St. Louis for a potential hat trick that Holtby got across on. Somehow, all four penalty killers were below the circle leaving Brewer all alone at the point and giving him all traffic he needed to double his season total from last season. Ryan Malone is left all by himself to completely eliminate Holtby’s line of sight.
On the offensive side of things, the Caps showed some signs of potential. Alexander Ovechkin is clearly disoriented on the right side as he was repeatedly looking around for the puck. While I may have worried about secondary scoring, it seems the Caps lack primary scoring
Defensively, they could not be more lost. They obviously are trying to run high-pressure scheme in their own end, but just don’t have it yet. On multiple occasions, Lighting skaters were left all alone in front of the net and free to screen Holtby as much as they wanted. The problem for them is that they are nowhere close to where they need to be and they have no time to play catch-up.
This team also just doesn’t know each other enough. They don’t trust one another which leads to too many “I’m going to do it myself” situations. There was a notable lack of standing up for one another. While I didn’t see anything wrong with Lecavalier’s hit on Hillen, I expected to see Lecavalier getting some shoves. It only speaks poorly about team chemistry when you have a player clearly injured after a check and everybody just skates away.
Luckily, they do have a few days before Winnipeg comes to town on Tuesday. If they let Winnipeg run all over them like the Lightning did, they are in for a long, shortened season.
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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.
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