The Capitals’ power play has scored only four goals on its past 44 opportunities, scattered over the past 17 games. The numbers, however, also show the unit hasn’t been getting many chances in recent games.
In fact, the Caps have drawn three or more power plays in a single game only three times in the past 10 contests. Twice during that span, they did not receive an opportunity.
“It tells you that you’re not having the puck enough in the offensive zone,” veteran Mike Knuble said after Friday’s 3-2 loss in Winnipeg. “You’re not doing something to create the chances. You have to force them into taking a bad penalty here and there. And you do that by having the puck on your stick and make them reach for you.”
While there has been a league-wide downturn in power play opportunities this season, Knuble and Brooks Laich said they feel the Caps’ decline in opportunities might have something to do with the more conservative style that Coach Dale Hunter employs.
In 22 games under Bruce Boudreau this season, the team averaged 3.9 power plays per game. With Hunter behind the bench, they’re drawing 2.7. In all, the Caps rank 27th in power plays drawn this season with 216.
“We haven’t had a lot of power plays,” Laich said. “We don’t play the high-octane offensive system where we’re just running and gunning and trying to score and [opponents] take penalties on hooks and holds. We play a little more conservative and then when get our chances, we want to capitalize on those. That, right there, probably eliminates two power plays per game.”
Laich also said he’s not overly concerned about the downturn in power play opportunities – yet, at least.
“We’re not getting power plays, but we’re also not giving up chances against,” he said. “It’s a bit of cause and effect.”