Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Caps still adapting to Oates' new system

The Washington Capitals are 0-2 to start the shortened season under a new coach. The players will take a week or two to get used to Adam Oates’ new system. Last night the Caps looked clueless at some points, especially on the penalty kill. In the first two games the Caps PK has only killed 61.5% of power plays. This team cannot continue to take this many penalties, already giving up five power play goals. Newcomers, Mike Ribeiro and Joey Crabb both took penalties for chirping at the referees late in the game. Ribeiro’s penalty also resulted in a 10 minute misconduct. He didn’t seem to like getting high-sticked in the face that went unnoticed earlier in the game. Marcus Johansson last night was the worst Caps player on the ice because he was simply not skating. Mojo was removed from the top line and was benched for the majority of the third period. He has to improve his game or we could see him getting healthy scratched in the future.
Some fans might be panicking, but with a new coach, new system, and some new players, the Washington Capitals will only get better with time. It took time for Adam Oates to have effect on the New Jersey Devils the last couple years, but helped them to the Stanley Cup, with that being said, the Caps have scored a power play goal in consecutive games and seem to be working the puck pretty well in the 1-3-1 formation. Despite the penalties, Mike Ribeiro leads the team in points with three assists in two games. Alex Ovechkin is noticeably taking some time to adapt to his new position at right wing. He looks a little lost, but I saw improvement from the first game last night with him picking up his first point of the year. Other than Mike Green, Ovi played more minutes than anyone on the team and logged four shots and one assist.
Braden Holtby seems to be, “fighting the puck” as Coach Adam Oates said, referring to him looking uncomfortable in net in the first two contests of the year. He has allowed 10 goals in two games which could be the reason Michal Neuvirth will start on Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens. Holtby has an 86% save percentage this season and is in need of some help defensively to improve his confidence. Look for Holtby to start Friday vs. New Jersey Devils because of the back to back games.
The most impressive players on the ice last night for Washington were Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle. Beagle has earned his spot on the third line this year with Joel Ward and Jason Chimera. Last night he didn’t get on the score sheet, but his fore-checking and physical play was impressive. He also was robbed of a goal by an Ondrej Pavelec glove save in the third period. Matt Hendricks had himself a memorable night in the loss, logging his first goal of the season and dropping the mitts not once but twice. He scored on a deflection after Backstrom and Ovechkin strung together beautiful touch passes. Hendy is always a pleasure to watch and last night proved why he is a vital piece to the Washington Capitals’ puzzle.

Player of the Game: Matt Hendricks (goal, 2 fights)

Mr. Irrelevant: Marcus Johansson

Unsung Hero: Jay Beagle


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