Just two preseason games remain for the Capitals, who will use close to a full lineup both on Friday against the Sabres and Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks in near dress rehersals for the regular season.
At this point, Coach Bruce Boudreau says he believes the team understands the systems he installed over the course of training camp particularly in the defensive and neutral zones. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t like the Capitals, who have recorded just nine goals in five preseason games, to establish themselves more in the offensive zone.
“If you know me, I like to score; our creativity scoring-wise hasn’t been where we want it,” Boudreau said. “We’re hoping that it starts to pick up.”
The Capitals’ group of hulking forwards such as Alex Ovechkin, Troy Brouwer, Mike Knuble, Joel Ward, Brooks Laich, etc. should benefit from the anticipated uptick in physicality once the regular season begins as well.
“Our forechecking, I think, will get better as the season goes on because the contact will become way more intense than it has been in the preseason,” Boudreau said. “That’s one of the things, with the size that we have, it becomes paramount when it comes to forechecking is the physical contact of our team.
“Right now we haven’t had the lineup in and we haven’t seen it and I think a lot of that is because it’s still training camp. You go through so many hits in the course of the year you’re not going to have 12 hits by an individual in a game unless he’s trying to make the team.”
Then there’s the power play, which is 2 for 19 so far in the preseason. Boudreau said he has used different power play setups each game, and tonight against Buffalo will be no exception. While these are exhibition games, simply getting the unit back to functioning well on a semi-regular basis is something the Capitals want to see in these last two games.
“It’d be nice just to see some goals go in,” Mike Green said after the loss in Nashville on Wednesday. “If we’re going to be a successful team, our power play has got to be up there. . . . We just have to create, and right now we’re kind of just passing around the perimeter. We need to use a little more creativity and use our skill.”