There’s no hiding the fact that the Capitals are better on the power play with Mike Green in the lineup.
In the last 10 games, as the unit has plummeted to a dismal 10.5 percent, going 4 for 38. Green has played on only one man-advantages during that stretch, because he has been sidelined by a right ankle injury and a strained right groin muscle. During the first seven games of the year, with a healthy Green in the mix, Washington was 8 for 28, 28.5 percent. The power play is 0 for 16 in the last four games.
In Nashville this week, Coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters that he challenged the Capitals to make the power play more than a one-man unit.
The problems range from the familiar – trying to be too cute and not moving the puck enough – to making sure everyone on the power play understands what the group is trying to do rather than ad-lib a play on their own.
“We’ve got to get on the same page. We’re trying to force things a little bit rather than take what’s given to us,” Troy Brouwer said. “Every team goes through lulls where they’re not doing very well. We’ve got to make sure we’re just shooting pucks, keeping it simple. Making sure that we’re retrieving pucks and getting the puck in guys’ hands that we need it.”
One of the guys who often has the puck on the power play is Nicklas Backstrom and he said that he knows he needs to worry less about making the perfect play and just take what’s available.
“We haven’t moved the puck as we used to,” Backstrom said. “We need to get some more shots, work a little harder in their zone. For me, myself, I have a lot of puck control and I look for that special pass. Maybe I’ve got to play a little bit easier.”
The balance between not forcing plays on the power play and over-thinking actions with the man-advantage is a fine line, though, and Boudreau thinks the Capitals may be crossing it a bit as they try to break out of the slump.
“We’re getting a lot of good chances, Brooks Laich had a great chance [against Winnipeg]. In Nashville, we had some really good chances, we’re just not burying them,” Boudreau said. “Right now you see the way some guys are fanning on the pucks and I think it’s because they’re over-anxious. They want to do so well and sometimes you squeeze the stick so hard that nothing works for you and I think some guys are at that stage right now. They have to just relax — they’re very good players and do what comes natural to them.”