The Washington Capitals have lost three straight games. Their offense has been anemic lately. But one aspect of their game has become infamous this season: the once vaunted power play. After being one of the league’s top units since the Bruce Boudreau days, the squad is ranked 22nd in the NHL this season, converting less than 15 percent of the time. In response, Caps fans have incessantly mocked and or panicked about the man-advantage.
But head coach Barry Trotz has a solution: Jay Beagle. The center, 31, has never scored a regular-season power play goal in his nine year NHL career.
A day after his players looked meek in a 3-0 loss to the Islanders, Barry Trotz went viral Friday for the toughness he showed in a game the week before.
Last Saturday, Trotz was struck in the forehead by a deflected puck in the opening minute of the Caps game against the Leafs. Despite being cut open, Trotz — a former hockey player himself — continued coaching, while the bump on his head swelled to the size of a walnut.
When asked about being hit by the puck later, Trotz joked, “What puck?”
Meanwhile, in the sport of soccer, that kind of toughness is not as prevalent.
The start of the Caps/Leafs game was strange. Leafs’ grinding extraordinaire Matt Martin opened the scoring with a breakaway goal. But I want to focus on the opening face off.
As the Leafs gained possession off the draw, the puck deflected off Nikita Soshnikov’s stick and into the Caps bench. The puck struck Caps Head Coach Barry Trotz square in the forehead.
The Columbus Blue Jackets won their fourth straight game Sunday, but not it was not without controversy. Captain Nick Foligno drew a high-sticking penalty from Nicklas Backstrom with 1:34 left in the game. Alexander Wennberg would score the tie-breaking and game-winning goal on the resulting power play with under a minute remaining.
That result would have been easier to stomach for the Capitals if Backstrom’s penalty was a penalty. It wasn’t. Backstrom’s stick never touched Foligno.
USA Today published an article on Thursday that describes the skeptical attitude many in hockey’s orthodoxy have towards puck possession statistics. The Corsi denialism movement, as described by Kevin Allen, is noteworthy for two reasons:
It’s understandable why people might mistrust advanced stats, but these arguments don’t survive a closer look.
There’s no goaltending controversy in Washington, but Tuesday night in Columbus, backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer will receive a second-straight start. Reigning Vezina trophy-winner Braden Holtby will sit again.
Barry Trotz explained why while speaking to the press after the team’s morning skate Tuesday. Trotz came to the decision, in part, out of genuine concern for his young goaltender, whom he felt was hung out to dry by his Capitals teammates against the Carolina Hurricanes.
After a solid start to the season, the Washington Capitals lost their second straight game in regulation on Wednesday night. It was the first time that had happened in 19 months. On Saturday night, they hope to get back on track as the opening month of the NHL season winds down when they face the Vancouver Canucks in the second part of Washington’s four game western Canadian road trip.
The Capitals and Canucks face similar problems: they started the year off well, but now they can’t score.
“We probably have to get a few more pucks on net and probably get a dirty goal rather than a pretty goal,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said Friday night. “We have to find a way.
Washington and Vancouver are tied for the second fewest goals in the NHL with 14.
On Wednesday night, the Washington Capitals lost their second straight game in regulation for the first time in 19 months. Hours earlier head coach Barry Trotz had dismissed Washington’s struggles as “small samples” that just gave the media “something to write about.” At the Capitals’ first practice since Washington’s 4-1 defeat to the Edmonton Oilers, Trotz gave the media plenty to write about all by himself, dramatically tweaking the forward lines.
“The coaching staff feels something fresh is going to happen,” new first line right wing Justin Williams said Tuesday in Vancouver, where the Capitals will play the Canucks Saturday night. “Obviously we need it. We’re not scoring enough goals, and that’s pretty evident, it’s clear.”
The last time the Washington Capitals lost two straight games in regulation was March 13, 2015. Curtis Glencross led the way for the Capitals with a first period goal in the team’s 4-2 defeat to the Dallas Stars.
Nineteen months later, the Capitals crashed back to earth after a season of tremendous success. On Wednesday night, the Caps fell 4-1 in Edmonton to Oilers after losing their previous matchup against New York 4-2. The team has now won three of its six games.
Last year, the Capitals had one of the best regular-season performances of all time, capturing the Presidents’ Trophy. Despite bringing back a nearly identical roster, the 2016-17 campaign has gotten off to a choppy start.
“We got to perform better,” defensemen Matt Niskanen said after Wednesday’s loss. “Guys need to do their jobs. It’s a little uncomfortable here tonight after the game.”
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