The Washington Capitals and the Toronto Maple Leafs just engaged in an instant classic.
After taking an initial 1-0 lead, the Capitals would comeback three separate times (2-1, 4-2, and 5-4) before winning in overtime. The Caps’ 6-5 OT victory would end the Leafs’ winning-streak at five games.
Let’s celebrate by re-watching all the of the goals.
Barry Trotz shook up his defensive pairings a few weeks ago and in doing so he reunited John Carlson and Karl Alzner as the Caps shutdown defensive pair. Carlson and Alzner have skated just over 3,000 minutes together in their career, but only 212 of those minutes have been during the Trotz regime.
But 128 of those 212 minutes have come since the recent reunion. The pair has been Trotz’s first choice to shutdown the top offensive players on the Caps’ opponent any given night. Unfortunately for the Caps, the reunion isn’t going very well. The Caps are getting outplayed when they’re on the ice. This pairing either needs to be broken up or have the difficulty of their assignments reduced.
Friday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, John Carlson was fantastic. The 2016-17 season has been a bit of a struggle at times for the American defenseman. Carlson scored one goal in his first 31 games. He often foiled the Washington Capitals’ power play early in the year with misplaced passes to Alex Ovechkin or point shots that badly missed the net.
Things seem to be improving, however. Carlson has nine points in his last 10 games. Against Tampa Friday night, Carlson was more aggressive than usual, firing a game-high six shots on net. The two goals he scored in the first period gave the Caps stalwart his second career two-goal game.
Through the first nine games of the season, defensemen for the Capitals have accrued 15 assists. That comes to 38 percent of the total number of assists for the entire team. All six d-men who have suited up for the Caps have gotten at least two assists; only six forwards can say that. Even Karl Alzner has gotten on the scoreboard, recording the only two goals scored by Capitals defensemen this season.
This has all been by design (minus Alzner scoring). Washington’s defensemen have been more active in the Capitals offensive game on the rush and in the zone. Barry Trotz has been stressing the need to work the puck from high-to-low in the offensive zone for his entire tenure in Washington, and he — along with assistant coach Todd Rierden — doubled down on that point in training camp.
Here are the three things I’ve noticed that have made the Caps defensemen more productive this season.
Sunday night, Capitals players held their annual Halloween Party at the Mari Vanna restaurant in Washington DC. The costumes were fantastic.
Superstar Alex Ovechkin slicked back his hair and put on a prisoner costume. His wife Nastya, who I’m guessing was his captor, dressed up as a police officer, potentially giving us an inside look into who truly wears the pants in that relationship. Meanwhile #CapsNeighbors Tom Wilson and Andre Burakovsky dressed up as stepbrothers and TJ Oshie and his wife Lauren were Mr. and Mrs Smith… with a twist.
Check out all the costumes below.
Over the past four seasons, the power play has been the lifeblood of the Washington Capitals.
Since 2013, nearly one-fourth of the team’s goals have been scored on the man-advantage. Impressive regular season numbers and Alex Ovechkin’s resurgence, led by his one-timers from the Ovi Spot, have all benefited greatly from Washington’s power play firepower. This year, however, one of league’s perennial top units is off to a slow start. Through two games and eight opportunities, the normally deadly Washington PP has come up with nothing.
“We’re leaving a lot on the ice,” John Carlson, who anchors the point on the first power play unit said after Saturday’s win over the Islanders. “For our skill level, our talent, we should have more goals than we do.”
The Washington Nationals are back in the playoffs tonight and will look to put past playoff disappointments behind them, as they take on the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the NL Divisional Series.
Caps defenseman John Carlson, a huge Nats fan, tweeted out his support in the afternoon.
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