Following the Capitals’ 4-3 overtime loss to Carolina on Tuesday night, Brooks Laich made an unprompted comment about the nature of the goals and chances they have been giving up too many of recently.
“I’m sick and tired of giving up easy goals,” Laich said. “We’re giving up goals that they don’t have to work to score. It’s killing us.”
Easy goals, as Laich defines them, are when the Capitals allow breakaways and odd-man rushes that greater increase their opponents’ odds of scoring. Washington hasn’t offered enough resistance in their own zone to make it tougher for foes to get those scoring chances, Laich said.
“If you’re going to give up goals you want to make them work for it, drive through guys and have to scramble to score a goal,” Laich said. “We can’t just let them shoot pucks into open nets. We hang Michal [Neuvirth] out to dry, he’s got no chance.”
When examining the Hurricanes’ goals, two came off odd-man rushes, one on a breakaway and another the product of a bad bounce and missed assignment. Laich wasn’t focused solely on that single outing, though, as he was aiming to express an overall concern at the trend.
Other players agreed with Laich’s assessment. Part of the problem stems from the turnovers and miscues that seem to plague Washington on a nightly basis and put it at odds for successful chances.
“I think we’re just making mental errors,” said Dennis Wideman, who accepted personal responsibility for mistakes that led to the third and fourth goals by the Hurricanes on Tuesday night. “The play at the blueline [on Carolina’s third goal] was a mental error; you can’t make that any time. You can play your best game all night, play solid and one mistake that costs you a hockey game.”
The other key factor, player say, is that the Capitals tend to allow opponents to make their way to the net largely without any impediments. Laich critiqued Washington’s tendency to lose races to the crease for positioning and a lack of laying checks on an opponent who is attempting to make plays in their zone.
Said Troy Brouwer: “I think we have to be a little bit tougher in front of our net. We let guys stick around for second and third whacks; we don’t pick up sticks as much as we should but that happens because forwards aren’t collapsing down and helping the D-men. We just need to be a little tougher on teams and make teams not want to drive to our net.”
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