While the Capitals have won six of their past eight games, there are still kinks to their game that the team would like to iron out sooner rather than later. One of those wrinkles is the way that Washington’s offense seems apt to dry up for various stretches during a game.
Take the Capitals’ 4-3 win over Tampa Bay Friday. After establishing a 3-0 lead, Washington went 18 minutes and 4 seconds without a shot on goal the stretch began just over eight minutes into the second period and stretched into the first six minutes of the third.
Washington hung on for that win over the Lightning but not after allowing them to climb back into the contest. Tampa Bay’s ultimate push came late in the third but by not continuing to challenge offensively and push forward in the middle of the game, the Capitals never put it completely out of reach.
“It’s kind of a little wakeup for the players how this game’s going – you’re spending a lot more time in your end then you should be,” Mike Knuble said of the game against Tampa. “You’re trying to play more down in their end, and obviously the only way you’re going to score is get shots on goal. The more shots [you take] you’re just playing the odds -- it can only help, it can’t hurt to get more shots on goal.”
The Capitals have taken 30 or fewer shots on goal in each of the past 13 games and they reached the 30 mark only once in that span – in a 5-2 loss to San Jose on Jan. 7.
Ideally, the Capitals will learn how to balance between creating more sustained offensive pressure while playing sound defensively on a more consistent basis throughout a game. When Washington plays with a lead, like it did against the Lightning, they can’t focus solely on making sure they protect their own end. As the cliché goes, the best defense is a good offense.
“You’ve got to find some kind of a medium ground there,” Jason Chimera said. “You’ve got to err on the side of caution when you can but still go for it. You’ve got to forecheck hard two guys and make sure the third guy’s high, that’s about it you’ve still got to get guys going to create offense. Best way to keep [an opponent] off the scoresheet is play in their end. Bad things can happen if you play in your end, they throw pucks at the net -- a fluky one goes in and then they’re off to the races.”
More from Post Sports:
--Tomas Vokoun solidifies his status as Caps’ No. 1 goaltender
--Jeff Schultz: “I just want to play”
--Dale Hunter on ice time, why Jason Chimera was on the fourth line against Tampa Bay.