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The Greyhound

Capitals struggle to keep fiery start to season, fall to 2-5


In the first two games of the Capitals’ season, we saw a historic start from left wing Alex Ovechkin and an unexpectedly hot start for a team whom many expected to struggle early. However, a stale offensive attack and a still-developing defense have led to a skid for the Caps.

Oct. 9: Lightning 4, Capitals 3

Washington hoped to continue their hot start in Tampa Bay, but fell 4-3 in overtime after a costly penalty from having too many men on the ice lead to a Lightning power play goal.

Right winger T.J. Oshie tallied two goals and one assist. The assist came on a goal from veteran center Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom also had an assist, and center Evgeny Kuznetsov racked up his team-leading eighth assist of the year.

Goalie Philipp Grubauer got the nod in goal and recorded 36 saves.

Washington was up 3-1 in the second period, but failed to capitalize on power play opportunities. The club made multiple crucial mental mistakes, including the too many men on the ice penalty, which left the door open for Tampa to steal the win.

Oct. 11: Penguins 3, Capitals 2

The Capitals then returned home to face the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. While the club looked to rebound from their loss against Tampa Bay, they were met with a similar result to their last bout. The Penguins handled the Caps, taking the game by a score of 3-2.

The game featured very sloppy play, with 10 minor penalties during the game. Washington had a season-high six of them, leading to three Pittsburgh power play goals.

Ovechkin scored late in the third to give him a league-leading eighth on the year. Defenseman Christian Djoos assisted and had a goal of his own in his NHL debut.

Oct. 13: Capitals 5, Devils 2

Washington handed the New Jersey Devils their first loss of the season in Newark, putting the pieces together on offense and coming up with a strong road performance.

Ovechkin scored his ninth goal of the season and assisted on a power play goal from Backstrom in the first period. Backstrom had three assists of his own on the night. Oshie also had a big night, scoring two goals and adding an assist.

The offense’s patience in the power play gave the defense time to organize their runs and have fresher legs, leading to a solid performance on both sides of the ice. When Washington’s stars show up, this team is very hard to beat.

Oct. 14: Flyers 8, Capitals 2

The Capitals lost in blowout fashion to Philadelphia in the Flyers’ home opener, showing huge cracks in the defense in the absence of their blue-line all-star Matt Niskanen.

Washington’s blue-line played without first-line defenseman Niskanen, who is out until at least Nov. 7 with an upper body injury. Without Niskanen, the defense looked out of sorts, and eventually left the door completely open for the Philadelphia offense in the second period, as they gave up three quick goals to make the deficit 5-2.

Winger Jakub Vrana and Backstrom scored for the Caps. Kuznetsov continued to contribute on offense, assisting on Vrana’s second goal of the year.

An 8-2 loss isn’t as hard to swallow when Ovechkin and Oshie go quiet and your best defenseman is out with an injury, but for this team to be a contender, it needs to learn not to rely on its all-star players to carry the team to victory. Players like Vrana will have to play a bigger role down the stretch.

Oct. 17: Maple Leafs 2, Capitals 0

Washington was shut out at home against a hot Toronto team, who scored both of their goals in the third period to put the game out of reach.

The Caps’ defense was much better than what they showed in their 8-2 loss, but this time the offense failed to produce. They went 0 for 3 on power plays and were stagnant at times, often relying on their stars to create scoring opportunities.

As has been the theme for the year, Washington’s stars decide the fate of this team. We can’t blame them for not showing up every game. Other scoring options need to show up for Washington’s offense to be as lethal as it was a year ago.

Oct. 20: Capitals 4, Red Wings 3

The Capitals pulled out a tough road win against Detroit, as Ovechkin’s signature left-circle wrister lifted the Caps to the victory.

Right winger Jay Beagle and left winger Andre Burakovsky both scored their first goals of the season for Washington. Washington needs to see more names in the scoring book, and this is a good start.

The game was close throughout, but Washington still needed a last-minute goal from Oshie with the goalie pulled to bring the game to overtime.

This game showed that even without guys like Oshie and Backstrom, Washington’s offense can still produce. As the season progresses and the newer faces become more acclimated with the offense, this team can be dangerous.

Oct. 21: Panthers 4, Capitals 1

Don’t let the one goal fool you: Washington’s offense was very active in this game. The movement was fluid and the puck was never in one place for too long. The problem was the Panthers’ back-up goalie James Reimer, who was a wall in the net, tallying 41 saves.

Djoos found himself in the scoring column again, netting his second of the year. But this was the only flaw on the night of Reimer, who kept Capitals forwards frustrated all night. Washington’s defense let in two goals early, but they played better as the night went on.

The Capitals are currently fifth in the Metropolitan division with nine points. Washington will only improve as their personnel become more comfortable with the offense. For now, expect the Caps’ scoring attack to continue to fall mostly on the shoulders of Oshie, Backstrom, and Ovechkin.


*Photo courtesy of Lulu via*

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Capitals struggle to keep fiery start to season, fall to 2-5