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Caps 2, Pens 3 - Capitals Recover After Slow Start to Earn a Point

February 24, 2021, 8:33 AM ET [3 Comments]
Brian Sickles
Washington Capitals Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Hello All,

The Washington Capitals overcame another slow start to earn a point against the Pittsburgh Penguins. It wasn’t pretty but I will take gladly take a point considering how much the Capitals were outplayed.

Here are the stats from the game today:

Shots on Goal:

WSH – 22

PIT – 37

Faceoff %:

WSH –44.4

PIT –55.6

Power Play:

WSH – 0/2

PIT – 1/2


WSH – 31

PIT – 15


WSH – 16

PIT – 13

Chances For:

WSH – 48

PIT – 66

Chances For (5v5):

WSH – 45

PIT – 57

Scoring Chances For:

WSH – 24

PIT – 33

Scoring Chances For (5v5):

WSH – 24

PIT – 26

High Danger Chances For:

WSH – 8

PIT – 11

High Danger Chances For: (5v5):

WSH – 8

PIT – 9

Here are my takeaways from the game:

1. Special Teams – While a majority of this game was played at 5v5, special teams did play a role in determining the outcome of this game. The Capitals entered this game with the 2nd best power play in the league on home ice. Heading into the game against the Penguins, the Caps had scored on 12 of 24 power play opportunities at home for a 50% conversion rate. Not only did the Penguins kill off both of Washington power plays, the Pens didn’t allow a single shot on net. Impressive. At 5v4, the Penguins dominated the Capitals. Chances were 8-0, scoring chances were 6-0, and high danger chances were 2-0...all in favor of the Pens. The Penguins also got a PPG in the first period. Those stats are about as lopsided as they get. Considering the Capitals just came off a game against the Devils just two days ago when they went 3 for 4 on the power play, that is quite impressive execution by the Penguins. The Penguins have now killed off 17 of the last 19 Capitals power plays in head to head matchups this season (89.5% kill rate.)

2. New Lines…Same Problems – I have no historical data to back up this take but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coach for the Capitals shuffle lines as much as I have seen with Laviolette. Whether its lines heading into a game, or mid-game shuffling…he’s constantly changing them. Heading into the game against the Penguins, Laviolette elevated Lars Eller to the first line and dropped Backstrom to the…third? I guess when asked about it, Laviolette wanted a more balanced set of all four lines from top to bottom but Backstrom to the third? C’mon, man! There was really no consistent flow or chemistry to these lines and Laviolette needs to scrap these asap. On the positive side, Conor Sheary did score against the Penguins after being elevated to the 2nd line. Richard Panik, one of the Capitals more consistent depth players, finally was rewarded with a goal in what had generally been some fantastic individual hockey as of late. The 4th line of Hagelin-Dowd-Hathaway was badly outplayed at 5v5. They were out shot, out attempted, and on the ice for the goal against. It was bad. What kind of wacky lines are we going to see come Thursday? I guess Laviolette was pleased with the overall performance so maybe it doesn't change, I dont know.

3. Vitek Vanecek – I thought Vanecek had a pretty solid game. Not including the goal he gave up in 3v3 OT, Vanecek stopped 34 of 36 shots faced. In OT, the goal was just great hustle and execution from Blueger to Kapanen. Kuznetsov was straight up outhustled down the ice by Kapanen. I mean he got burned…bad. Kapanen was benched in the last game for the Penguins...that is a heck of a hustle play and a heck of a response. Vitek Vanecek has mostly been terrorized by the Penguins this season. In his three previous starts against the Pens, Vanecek has an average SV% of .892. Against the Pens last night, he had a .919 SV%. There was not much Vanecek could have done to stop any of the Penguins three goals.

To recap, this was not the Capitals best effort. Credit to Pittsburgh Penguins for neutralizing the Capitals effective power play. The Penguins probably should have won this game in regulation, but they allowed Washington to grind their way to a point. I will take it!

Last thing and a random little rant. I am already getting annoyed with the schedule this season. Yes, I find division games against teams like Pittsburgh, Philly, Boston to be very captivating. After playing each other eight times, whoever makes the playoffs in the division then gets to meet same team for a best of seven? I want Carolina, I want Columbus, I want to play Vancouver when Holtby is in net. You name a team, I could probably find a more captivating story-line than Caps vs Pens Game #6 in barely over a month of hockey. Caps vs Pens should never lose its lust but enough already. It’s too much of the same thing. I just miss just playing every team in the league.

Next up the Capitals face the Penguins (again) on Thursday at 7pm ET

That is all, thanks for reading and GO CAPS
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