The Capitals held a brisk practice for over an hour at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on Saturday and much of the session focused on their need to generate more offense. It might have been an off day but after a lackluster showing in a 3-0 loss to Carolina the night before, there was work to do.
A few numbers to chew on: the Capitals have taken less than 25 shots on goal in each of the past seven games and they’ve fired 30 or more just once in the past 17 contests. While shots on goal aren’t the end-all in determining how much offense a team is manufacturing, it certainly lowers a team’s odds of scoring if not as many pucks are going on net.
During their practice in Pittsburgh, the Capitals worked on creating chances off the rush and making sure that there were bodies in front of the net on each rotation through.
“Our practice today, all those half-ice rushes were all about making sure guys are going to the net and making smart plays,” Troy Brouwer said. “If you don’t have anything but you throw it off a pad for a rebound, that’s just as good as a pretty backdoor pass. We’ve just got to make sure that pucks and bodies are going to the net — not just one or the other.”
Coach Dale Hunter said that the Capitals have been making bad decisions when they’re in the offensive zone and derail their own opportunities at scoring chances or shots on goal.
“Definitely got to get more pucks to the net and making the proper decision when you do get a chance,” Hunter said. “We’re blowing some chances, that’s what we’re doing and anymore there’s only so many chances in a game so you’ve got to get it out there.”
More to come on the Capitals’ need to generate shots and offense in tomorrow’s paper.
On to a few more notes from the practice:
— Lines, which feature a few tweaks from what Washington used in Carolina:
— Hunter kept mum on his plans for the starting goaltender against the Penguins on Sunday. Tomas Vokoun, who has started 11 of the past 12 contests, has faced Pittsburgh in each of the three previous meetings this year and he’s stopped 102 of the 106 shots (.962 save percentage) he’s faced against them.
Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start for Pittsburgh and make his 21st straight appearance. The last game he missed was on Dec. 3.
— Against the Hurricanes, Hunter paired rookie defensemen Dmitry Orlov and Tomas Kundratek together in something of a curious move considering their limited experience. “They’re young guys and they can feed off each other. They did a pretty good job last night, I thought we watched the game today and they didn’t make many mistakes, moved the puck pretty well,” Hunter said. “We try to get the better matchups for them, so they’re not going against the Malkins or something because there’s more chance of making a mistake then.”