Caps Get Chances, But Not Goals, Against Sharks


Photo credit: Rob Carr

Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates has been searching for five-on-five production all season. While Alex Ovechkin has thrived, other members of top six have been less consistent. After the first period on Tuesday, Oates had a new iteration for the first two lines: Eric Fehr-Nicklas Backstrom-Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich-Mikahil Grabovksi-Alex Ovechkin.

“We haven’t scored a lot of goals the last couple games and he’s looking for a spark,” Laich told me of Oates’s change. “Our line had a couple of good chances.”

Fehr, particularly, was a monster offensively. He had several close scoring chances, including two great opportunities in overtime that almost won the game for Washington. Fehrsie finished with four shots on goal.

Continuing the theme, Ovechkin scored a fantastic shot from the far circle while Grabovski, who also had four shots, was hauled down on a premium opportunity in front, late in regulation.

“We were unhappy about our last game against Buffalo, so we played better tonight,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “Better puck movement, better puck possession, we moved the puck well. That’s what I think is the difference.”

“We know we aren’t going to score on every shift out there, but we are doing the right thing and hopefully it will bounce with us next game,” he added.

While the Caps failed to convert save for Ovechkin’s tally, they played tight with one of the best teams in league in a 2-1 shootout loss. Washington hasn’t been a good puck possession squad this year, but, as Backstrom noted, those number were right up there with the Sharks on Tuesday. The Caps owe much of that to their new forward combinations.

Oates said he made the change to get better matchups with the Sharks, but he likes the way the team responded to the move.

“There’s chances in the game,” Oates said. “We gotta play the same way. You gotta understand there’s nights where the other team’s got a good goalie, a good hockey team.”

  • Jack Conness

    We need someone else, or a couple of other guys, on the team who can score. We of course have the best player in the game, Alex Ovechkin. No offense to this man because I love him to death, but when Joel Ward is your team’s 2nd leading scorer, there is a problem. He is a great guy and an awesome hockey player but his role isn’t to be behind Ovi in the goal scoring on this team. They need guys to step it up. Ovi needs help.

  • Jack Conness

    Getting “close” and having “chances” doesn’t win games. It sounds nice but eventually these guys have to jump on their opportunities and capitalize. It better happen sooner rather than later. Let’s make the playoffs here.

  • “Getting “close” and having “chances” doesn’t win games.”

    Yeah, it does. You’re gonna get bad beats sometimes, but you’re gonna win more games than you lose playing like that.

    The worst thing that a coach could do now is undermine the patterns that were successful in that game in hopes that it’ll lead to fewer but better chances.

  • GuestZ

    The final quote from Oates concerns me. I don’t know if he understands part of his coaching job includes figuring out ways of overcoming these “good goalies” and “good teams.” If it’s not a W, something didn’t work right. And by the way the boys were playing (and the stats others use to say we played strongly), we did something right, except we lost.

    Take some consolation in the fact that we played a strong game against a better team, but don’t use that to excuse the L. Accountability, folks.

  • Jack Conness

    I realize it does but they need to jump on the opportunities, especially now since they have been on a bit of a slide and Philly and others are hot. They need to win games and they have a brutal stretch coming up. They did look better last night but at the end of the day, it is about putting the puck in the back of the net. Better, but not good enough…at least yet.

  • Ben Reed

    This, a thousand times this. The results aren’t there (SH% and SV% regression!), but this 5-10 game stretch is the best hockey the team has played this season. If they continue doing what they have been recently, they will be in good shape.

  • Diller M

    I think you have to take the comment within the context of the conversation. I would interpret “good” here to mean, in a sense, lucky. Miller is not going to make the stick save on Grabo 9/10 times, its a reach back and get lucky move. Like varly on Crosby in the 09 series.
    Oates is trying to emphasize that if you get these chances game in and game out then the goals will come.

  • Hockey Mom

    I was concerned about the potential outcome of this game–Caps getting creamed–and am so happy that they pulled out a good game. Sad to lose, but loved how well they played. I dare say it gives me hope that we have turned a corner and hopefully some Ws will be forthcoming. Time for the Caps to dig deep and to start pumping “The Eye of The Tiger” in the locker room! If we win tonight, I think it will be a huge boost to their confidence and morale. I am missing #61, though. Please put him back on the ice!

  • Hockey Mom
  • Myan

    My childhood friend lives in SJ and according to her, Niemi just had a really good night. “If Niemi played like he normally does, Ovechkin would have murdered us singlehandedly.”

    We’re getting a higher quantity of great opportunities but luck hasn’t been on our side. We’ve looked better in the last 3-4 games than we have all season and if we keep playing the game like we have been, the Ws are bound to come.

  • Another shootout loss stinks, but I think we’re headed in the right direction. 5v5 play has been much better, just gotta fix what ails the PP and PK and put it all together at once.