On Saturday night, the Caps finally lost their first game of the season in regulation. They lost, in part, because their penalty kill allowed a goal for the fourth time in five games and fell to 27th in the NHL in PK percentage.
After the game, Lars Eller said that, while there’s always room for improvement, he felt like the difference so far for the PK unit has been that they haven’t been getting the bounces. Here’s the thing: Eller’s right. So far, the Caps penalty kill hasn’t been allowing shots or scoring chances at an alarming rate, it’s just that pucks have been going in on a more regular basis, something that can happen in five game samples.
Special teams was key to the Washington Capitals’ success last season. The team has long been known for its vaunted power play, but the Caps captured the Presidents’ Trophy in large part due to their brilliant penalty kill, which stopped their opponents 85.2 percent of the time, second only to the Anaheim Ducks.
This year, however, the Caps PK is faltering. They are the fourth-worst unit in the NHL, allowing goals 28.6 percent of the time that their enemy has the man-advantage. Washington has allowed power play goals in four of the five games they’ve played, including a Jimmy Vesey tally Saturday night against the New York Rangers.
“I think it’s just little things here and there we need to work on and continue to get better on,” center Jay Beagle said. “We’re obviously not happy. That’s not good enough.”
Photo: Geoff Burke
The Caps penalty kill is currently ranked 23rd in the NHL, killing off 77.1% of all shorthanded situations. This may give you a ‘here we go again’ feeling due to how truly awful the Caps penalty kill was last season (They would have been much worse than 16th place if not for very strong goaltending.)
But rest easy, Caps fans. This Caps penalty kill is actually really good and could very well end up among the top in the league once goaltending improves. It could be even better if Barry Trotz starts deploying the penalty killers in a more optimized manner, as it seems he’s been giving the wrong penalty killers the most ice.
Photo credit: Chris Gordon
The Washington Capitals’ 27th-ranked penalty kill was one reason the team could have missed the playoffs. Now it’s the reason they’re up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
In a tight battle against the New York Rangers in game 2 on Saturday, the PK turned chances for crushing goals into momentum for themselves — especially while killing off Steve Oleksy’s delay of game early in overtime. Four minutes later, Mike Green literally shook Verizon Center.
During the game-saving work a man down, no player contributed more than Eric Fehr.
[Ed Note: With Peter galavanting in the middle of California for a wedding and Ian scrambling to keep up with all of the Barack The Red happenings, we’re not going to have a gamer tonight covering the Lightning’s 3-2 victory. Who wants to read more about that anyways? Not I. So tonight, we bring you something that has become a growing concern for the crew here at RMNB: the Capitals below average Penalty Kill. Will this do them in when the games really matter? What do you think? Read Neil’s article and let us know in the comments below.]
To misquote Yogi Berra, “95% of hockey is half defense.” Or more precisely, 58.3% defense according to Alan Ryder.
Now whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but what we do know is that goaltending is not the issue for the Caps going into the playoffs – it is their Penalty Killing (PK).
If we look at the teams that won The Cup since the 1979-80 season a distinct pattern emerges:
Week two of The Frost King’s Webhits – out of 156* – has links looking at how well the Capitals’ goalies perform on the penalty kill, the diversified scoring of Washington’s forwards, which players excelled at scoring in the past decade, whether defense still wins championships, and a discussion about reforming the shootout system. Enjoy!
* My contract apparently goes through the end of time, which latest info says will be December 21st, 2012. Plan to start (and finish) your Christmas shopping a little early that year!
Daniel Moroz, or The Frost King as some of us know him, will for now on be providing a weekly segment called “Wednesday Webhits” from now until the end of time. Trust me. He’s signed a contract in blood. He can’t get out of it.
This weekly post will deliver powerfully interesting links that will make you laugh, cry and maybe even kiss that dumb brain goodbye.
This week learn about ties, an awesomely great fighter, why EA Sports hates the Capitals and how Jose Theodore’s current flashy statistics might be a little misleading… Take it away Daniel!
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.