The Capitals’ struggles 5-on-3 have been well documented. They’ve yet to score on a two-man advantage this season despite seeing more time with that power-play scenario (5:46) than any other team in the league. They have failed to convert on 11 consecutive 5-on-3s dating back to last season.
Coach Adam Oates already said he doesn’t intend to change the players he sends out for such advantages and on Tuesday morning he took that sentiment a step further and said he’s not planning any alterations to the way the unit sets up either. Why?
“Because when I watch it on the replay and I show them, guys are wide open,” Oates said, explaining that the problems are with the decisions the players are making. When presented with a 5-on-3 the Capitals are getting the looks and opportunities they want but are over-thinking their reads, aiming for a highlight-reel play or tap in rather than taking what’s available.
“One of the tough things on a 5-on-3 is you instantly think pretty play, instantly,” Oates said. “You’ve still got to get the puck into the net. They’ve got three guys, they batten down the hatches even more. Five-on-four really your goal is to get a shot on net on the power play. Your goal is to get a shot on net with rebound angles. So 5-on-3 should technically be the same thought process. Part of the problem is you instantly flip the switch that ‘I don’t want to throw a lousy shot on net, I want to get a perfect shot,’ and that ends up affecting your rotation a lot.”
The Capitals also change their power-play setup on a 5-on-3 from the 1-3-1 configuration they use in a traditional 5-on-4 power play. When they have a two-man advantage, the power play changes to a 2-1-2 that is designed to keep the option in the center of the ice open and offer the ability to outnumber each opposing penalty killer down low.
But even considering those changes, the overall approach to the unit shouldn’t change.
“The rules still have to be the same of what you’re trying to accomplish on a power play,” Oates said.
>> Oates isn’t making any changes to the Capitals’ lineup as they return home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets after dropping back-to-back games on the road. That means Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle and Dmitry Orlov will all sit out as healthy scratches again.
>> Braden Holtby will make his 15th start of the season Tuesday night against Columbus. He finished with 37 saves in a 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets back on Oct. 19 in the two teams’ first meeting of the season.
>> Some injury news out of Hershey. Defensive prospect Tomas Kundratek suffered a torn ACL in his right knee Sunday night and told Tim Leone of the Patriot News he will have surgery once the swelling goes down. Kundratek sprained his right MCL last season while playing with the Capitals.
Here are the projected lineups for both teams.
Brandon Dubinsky-Ryan Johansen-Cam Atkinson
RJ Umberger-Artem Anisimov-Marian Gaborik
Blake Comeau-Derek MacKenzie-Mark Letestu
Sean Collins-Michael Chaput-Jared Boll
Fedor Tyutin-Jack Johnson
James Wisniewski-Ryan Murray
David Savard-Nikita Nikitin
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start.