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Posted at 12:08 PM ET, 04/16/2012

Monday One-Timers: Is shot-blocking part of Caps’ new playoff identity?


(Jonathan Newton - WASHINGTON POST)

After sporadic appearances in the regular season, the Monday one-timers are back for the postseason. Here are some thoughts on Capitals-Bruins through two games:

— When teams block a lot of shots, an instant conclusion is that they are likely suffering from a lack of possession and thus relegated to trying to block. In Game 1, that assumption seemed to fit the Capitals as they blocked 22 shots and spent large chunks of the contest hemmed in their own zone.

In the double-overtime Game 2, however, Washington blocked 27 shots largely without lopsided play in its defensive end. The Capitals had much more control against Boston in Game 2 than the number of shots blocked might indicate.

It’s a part of playoff hockey the Capitals have rarely been identified with in previous years, but one that’s played a significant role within the overall team defense that they’ve displayed against the Bruins. And there’s no one more grateful for the effort than goaltender Braden Holtby.

“It’s been outstanding,” Goalie Braden Holtby said. “That’s the difference, when you look at the commitment to the blocked shots….There’s a lot of plays where they didn’t shoot because they were in a position to block shots it’s great in front of the defense as forwards.”

— When Alexander Semin is diving to break up passes and block a shot from Zdeno Chara in overtime, it makes one wonder what the Capitals’ commitment to this style of play could accomplish this spring.

Washington is also answering the question of whether it can play a stringent defensive game with its roster as currently constructed. While this lineup certainly wasn’t put in place to do so, in these first two playoff games the players have found their stride within Coach Dale Hunter’s system.

— More to come on this a little later today, but it’s long past time for the Capitals to revive the power play. Considering how tight even-strength play is in this series, Washington needs to take advantage anywhere it can. Igniting the power play seems like the easiest solution to finding more goals in this series.

The Capitals closed out the regular season 2 for 24 (dating back to March 22 at Philadelphia) on the man-advantage and are 0 for 5 so far against the Bruins. Granted, Boston’s power play is 0 for 6 in the series as well.

“I think we haven’t got our power play going and they haven’t either,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “But if we’re going to win this series we’ve got to start scoring on the PP too.”

— When Game 2 went into overtime Saturday afternoon at TD Garden, I tweeted that it might be time to get used to this, meaning the low-scoring, tight checking battle of goaltending and defensive wills. While the response I received on Twitter was less than enthralled about the idea of an entire series playing out this way, the Capitals have said this is how they expect it to play out.

“The chances are here and there. There’s not much,” Mike Green said. “It’s just a battle of attrition really. That’s what it comes down to for these two teams.”

More from Post Sports:
Refocused Holtby has Caps dialed in
Hunter: ‘Holtsy’s our goalie’
Beagle’s playoff diary: resting up
Green the ‘best I’ve felt in two years’
— El-Bashir: Laying down the stingy D

By  |  12:08 PM ET, 04/16/2012

 
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