Alex Ovechkin and the Fantasy Draft is always a fun combination. Ian covered the hell out of it earlier. I’m just here to add some audio because the people demanded it.

I’m on it.

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What Is Barry Trotz Talking About?

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“I think we took our foot off the gas,” Jay Beagle said to the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt after Tuesday’s loss to Edmonton. “[We] kind of let teams creep back in.”

Surrendering two two-goal leads in in the last few games invites that sort of comment, and the media pressed Trotz about the Capitals’ lack of aggression during the postgame conference.

Trotz’s response was so confusing I might have an aneurysm before I finish this.

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We Were on a Break: Oilers beat Caps 5-4 (SO)

Patrick McDermott

Can we all agree that we like the beard? (Photo: Patrick McDermott)

The Caps’ last game before the All-Star Break began crackling with excitement, but quickly settled into the quiet urgency of a bunch of guys eager to get home for a long weekend. They couldn’t even manage to do that well, as the Caps squandered an early, healthy lead and lost in the gimmick.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the first period, first with a slapper on a delayed penalty and then again with an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot. Edmonton’s own number eight, Derek Roy, returned fire by beating Matt Niskanen to the niskanet. Before we hit intermission, Jay Beagle scored and there was much rejoicing.

Nikita Nikitin put the Oilers within one goal late in the second period while Niskanen was in the box.

In the third, Nick Backstrom tipped in John Carlson’s long bomb to put Edmonton back in the two-goal hole where they belong, though I guess maybe we forgot to tell them that. Teddy Purcell got a quick little snapper to Holtby’s far side to make 4-3 in the final five minutes, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tied it in the final 100 seconds, forcing overtime. Overtime didn’t do nuffin, so you know what’s next.

Shootout bullets!

  • Kuznetsov put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Yakupov did NOT put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Backstrom did NOT put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Eberle did NOT put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Ovechkin did NOT put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Roy put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Fehr did NOT put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Purcell put the biscuit in the basket, of course he did.

Oilers beat Caps 5-4 in the shootout. That was dumb as hell.

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Caps vs Oilers Pregame: And Then We Break

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Image from Hallskey

The Caps lost two in a row in a rather frustrating weekend. I liked how the Caps played for the most part, but there’s some saggy-ness in the defense that the team will need to fix if they want to beat the–

Oh, nevermind. It’s just the Edmonton Oilers.

You’re all clear, Caps, now let’s blow this thing and go to the All-Star break. 7 PM on CSN.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 24-13-8 52.3% 100.2 24.1% 79.3%
Edmonton Oilers 11-26-9 48.7% 97.3 13.9% 79.8%

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Patrick McDermott

Photo: Patrick McDermott

The Washington Capitals are a dangerous team when they’re trailing. We saw this twice last weekend as the Caps erased multi-goal leads by both the Predators and the Stars. And though they lost both those games, we learned a lot about how the Caps can perform when facing adversity.

When down a goal, the Capitals are the fourth most aggressive team in the league, possessing 59.7 percent of shot attempts. That’s a big jump from tie games, when the Caps hold a still-respectable 10th place shot-attempt percentage with 52.4 percent.

But when the Caps manage to get the lead, which they do most of the time, their possession drops to 46.9 percent, a stark drop-off, and a middling 13th in the league. That partially explains why the Caps rarely win by more than two goals.

All teams do this to some extent, but the Capitals’ meekness with the lead has been one of their noted weaknesses– even during that torrid winning streak last month.

Coaches often direct their teams to become less adventurous once they gain the lead, which is a primary factor in relatively lower possession. Barry Trotz does that to some extent (you can see it in the forecheck), but his personnel choices based on score are playing a role as well.

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Glenn James

Photo: Glenn James

What do you make of a week like that one? The Caps split the week with two wins and two losses– winning over the bad teams and losing to the good teams. Are we to conclude that the Caps bullied the weak teams but couldn’t compete with the dominant possession teams?

And what about those defensive mistakes that cost the Caps both games this weekend? Matt Niskanen’s giveaway lost the game on Friday, and a half dozen blown assignments lost the game on Saturday. What even does “defense” means in a game like hockey where players transition from attacking to defending in the blink of an eye?

And what can we conclude about back-up goalie Justin Peters based on last night’s game?

In this week’s snapshot, we cut the game in half and question everything, because what do we really know anyway?

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Loss Weekend: Stars beat Caps 5-4

Glenn James

Photo: Glenn James

What were your expectations for Saturday’s Caps game? Seriously, I want to know. Two games in as many nights, a deflating loss against the league’s most winning team on night one, a backup goalie in night two facing one of the fastest improving teams– I can think of lots of reasons this one could have gone really badly, but here’s how it really went:

Badly, at first at least. Tyler Seguin scored a power-play goal after Brooks Orpik blew his assignment on Jason Spezza, then Erik Cole got a deflection in front of Justin Peters to make it 2-0 going into intermission.

Spezza converted a three-on-one before the Caps finally woke up. Eric Fehr responded with a goal assisted by Joel Ward, then Andre Burakovsky put a zipper of a shot behind Kari Lehtonen. Alex Ovechkin converted a breakaway to tie the game early in the third period, but then the wheels came off.

Within twenty seconds, Antoine Roussel and Jamie Benn scored– the former with a lucky bounce and a layup, the latter with a rush goal against a slower defense.

Nick Backstrom got a one-timer off a brilliant pass from Alex Ovechkin in the final four minutes to make it a one-goal game. The Caps had some fireworks in the final ticks, but couldn’t hit the back of the net.

Stars beat Caps 5-4.

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Caps at Stars Pregame: Losing is a New Feeling

jamiebenn

From Hockey Fan Confessions, which, you guys, check that stuff out, because wow.

The Capitals lost last night, which I was surprised they were even capable of doing anymore. It was a generally good game at the Preds’ home cave, but a few bad bounces and a couple mistakes earned the team their first loss since December 23rd.

Now, on the back half of a full weekend, and playing against a quickly improving Stars team, the Caps risk doing something they’ve not done since the beginning of December: losing twice in a row.

8 PM on CSN proper. Meet you there. Bring snacks.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 24-12-8 52.1% 100.3 24.6% 79.3%
Dallas Stars 19-17-7 51.3% 100.3 14.9% 78.9%

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Ovisplosion Not Enough: Preds beat Caps 4-3

Frederick Breedon

Photo: Frederick Breedon

The Caps had a spirited effort against the Nashville Predators, erasing a two-goal hole and gaining the lead, but James Neal– that jerk– got the best of the Caps twice, earning a W for the home team and ending Washington’s win streak at three.

The game was back-and-forth until Seth Jones’s shot after an offensive-zone faceoff win for the Predators beat Holtby’s glove side. James Neal found a good spot and got a better bounce to put the Preds up two goals in the second period, but hold up–

Ovi comin’.

Alex Ovechkin scored on monster shot from, like, no angle during 5v5 and then doubled it up with a power-play shot from the Ovi spot two and a half minutes later. That guy alone changed the game before you had time to go potty.

Marcus Johansson notched a PPG in the third before Mattias Ekholm tied it up on the power play late in the third. Then, with one hundred seconds late, Matt Niskanen choked the puck up to James Neal, who scored an unassisted layup.

Preds beat Caps 4-3. Stunned.

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Caps at Predators Pregame: Trotz’s Homecoming

Remember that time you showed up at the party and your ex was there? You’ve both moved on, and you’re both doing pretty darn well, but now the rest of the night is about posturing to see who truly won the breakup?

The home stand is over. Now the Caps have to prove they can win on the road, and they’ve gotta do it against the hottest team in the league. The Nashville Predators are also the Caps head coach’s former team and the home of a prospect who was frittered away two years ago and has since rose to stardom.

Barry Trotz and the Caps vs Filip Forsberg and the Predators. Dramaaaaaaa.

8 PM on CSN Plus.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 24-11-8 52.0% 100.8 23.6% 79.4%
Nashville Predators 29-9-4 53.2% 103.0 15.2% 81.8%

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