Heading into Thursday’s game in Pittsburgh, the Capitals are the only team in the NHL that hasn’t scored four goals in a single game this season. Washington, once feared for its ability to light the lamp at will, averages 2.30 goals through the first 10 games, which ranks 24th in the league.
As players pondered the question of what the single biggest problem with the Capitals is at 2-7-1, several pointed to a lack of scoring, particularly at even strength.
“We haven’t been scoring,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “We’re doing a couple mistakes in the game that cost us the game and then [the opponent is] getting their goals at the right time. The last five games I think we’ve been playing pretty good, but we haven’t been scoring.”
Mike Green agreed, saying that while the Capitals are able to create chances and generate significant offensive zone time, they can’t find a way to consistently score off of those opportunities. “Until that happens, it’s going to be tough to grind it out,” he said.
The need for more goals starts at the top. Alex Ovechkin (2 goals) is still without an even-strength tally and the Capitals need more tangible results from their captain. That said, Ovechkin’s teammates weren’t about to single out the star winge.
Those who contribute to secondary scoring know they need to be better as well. Jason Chimera, who has yet to score a goal this season, criticized himself for a lack of production and stressed that improvement must start with each player individually.
“It starts with me. It’s not like we’re waiting on Ovi to lead the charge and score four or five goals in one game,” Chimera said. “We got to do [it] individually. You can’t look to one person. One person doesn’t win you a Stanley Cup. So I think you got to look at yourself in the mirror and go from there. I’m sure he’s gonna get his share of goals. It’s not like he’s not gonna score. Just everyone is kind of in a funk, and when you’re in a funk you got to look at yourself and get yourself out of it.”
There’s no easy solution to try and score more goals, either. Sure, there are the usual refrains of crash the net, search for the rebound and just be generally relentless, but as the Capitals continue to eliminate errors in their overall play and regain some confidence, the scoring should come with it. Or so thinks Joel Ward, who leads the team with four goals.
“You’re not going to automatically just score by pressing a button,” Ward said. “I think it’s just going back to mental issues of just being detailed. Once you’re kind of detailed in your , you’ll get chances to score. It’s just a matter of executing. That just comes with bearing down and I think it all goes back to mental details.”
–Caps forum: How can they turn the season around?