Friday, April 16, 2010

Room For Improvement

The Capitals are a game down in their opening series. Not that anyone should panic, but there are some mistakes that can be rectified. There are just a couple of things the Caps could do better going into game two. They can not afford to go down two games in this series. Here are simply 5 things the Caps can do to improve their chances on getting that important win and some of them are redundant problems they seem to have.

1. Giving is bad: The Capitals were guilty of 15 give-aways in game one. The Canadiens only had 6. And it was the defensemen that were coughing up pucks. It often lead to a Montreal chance on net. Mike Green lost control 4 times, John Carlson turned it over 5 times.

The Caps' defense has to make better decisions with the puck inside their own zone. The Habs seemed to clog the half boards and broke up Washington's break out. The end result is scrambling forwards coming back and the defense quickly trying to cover everyone. There needs to be a better way for the Caps to clear the zone with out turning the puck over.

2. Bring hardhats for 60 minutes: The Capitals were awesome in the first period. They were dominating, getting chances in front of the net and forcing the play. But that effort was not matched in the second or third periods.

The Caps have often been guilty of playing well and then letting that effort go lax thinking things are going well. Relying on other lines to carry the effort for the entire game is a mistake the Caps must correct.

3. Broken record but, Stop taking stupid penalties: The Habs are second best on the power play. The Caps PK is less than stellar. It doesn't take Stephen Hawking to figure out that taking penalties against Montreal is a huge mistake. The Caps are clearly the better team 5 on 5. Stay out of the sin bin, or get significantly better on the penalty kill.

4. Power play has to be better: The Caps were 0 for 4 with the extra man. When the other team takes a penalty and gives you a chance to score, you have to take it. Anything other is just not acceptable in playoff hockey.

It's not like the Caps are playing the best PK in the league either. The Canadiens were a marginal 16th in the league during the regular season. There needs to be more urgency to score when the Capitals have that opportunity.

5. Hit the net: The shots the Caps got to the net are not the problem, but they could have bested the 47 shots they had if they hadn't missed the net with high shots. The Caps had 20 shots that sailed wide or high.

Those shots are going to catch up to Jaroslav Halak. When they do, the flood gates will open for the Caps.

Caps Notes:
  • Alex Ovechkin once again has brought over a trainer from Russia during the playoffs. Bruce Boudreau denied the star forward might be nursing an ailment. "He's a 100-percent healthy so we'll get that out of the way," Boudreau said. "I heard a couple of people say last night that he might be playing hurt. No, we're making excuses for him. He just didn't have a great game."
  • Ovechkin, Jose Theodore, Alex Semin, Nick Backstrom and Mike Green did not practice with the team Friday. If line changes were made, it was hard to tell what they were with missing players. Although Boudreau promised no overhaul changes to the line up for Saturday night's game.
  • It was good numbers of the Capitals in the Washington area for game one. The game held an average of 5.1 through out the game and peaking at 7.4 during the overtime period (approx. 210,000 viewers). It is the fourth highest ranked game in Capitals post game history, dwarfed only by game 7 against Philly in 2008, and games 6 and 7 against Pittsburgh last post season.
  • There were no new injuries reported by the Capitals. Milan Jurcina remains out for 2 to 4 weeks.

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