The Washington Capitals lost 3-4 in a shootout against the Pittsburgh Penguins. As were the first two games of the season, this game was another display of generally sloppy hockey with breakdowns for both teams on the ice. Although the Capitals did not win, they did walk away with a point which I am very pleased with all things considered.
The Penguins were 0-2-0 heading into this game. In their two losses, they had outshot the Flyers 34-27 on Wednesday night and 33-20 on Friday night. Goaltending has been the biggest issue for Penguins in the early start to the season. The Penguins first game of the season, Jarry allowed six goals on 27 shots. The coaches were quick to pull Jarry in game two against Philadelphia after he allowed three goals on six shots. I am curious if they go back to Jarry for the next game on Tuesday against the Caps or they go back to Casey DeSmith who looked pretty decent today. He certainly held it down in the shootout.
With this being the Penguins first game on home ice to start the season and the team playing relatively well minus the goaltending, you knew Pittsburgh would come out fired up for this rivalry game. The Penguins not only came out strong, they scored the first goal of the game just 19 seconds into the start of the first period. This is the third goal the Capitals have allowed in the first minute of a period in three games this season. That is certainly not a great stat for the Capitals. They need to be more disciplined and get off to collectively better starts.
Here are my two biggest issues with the Capitals right now:
Penalties – The most penalized team in the 2019-2020 season continues to be one the most penalized team in the 2020-2021 season. Through three games, the Capitals have committed 13 minor penalties. Only Vancouver (14) has committed more minor penalties. While the Penguins went 0-5 on the power play and did not make the Capitals pay for those penalties, it will only be a matter of time before teams start to cash-in against Capitals
Lack Of Quality Scoring Chances – According to nhl.com/stats, the Capitals rank 24th out of 29 teams with an average of 24 shots per game. According to naturalstattrick.com, the Capitals rank 23rd out of 29 teams for total scoring chances generated so far this season. On the positive side they are 5th best in the league in terms of amount of “scoring chances against”. Digging even deeper, the Capitals rank 20th in terms of total “high danger chances for” and rank 26th in “high danger chances against”. What does all this mean? Well simply put, the Capitals are not producing a consistent volume of high-quality high-percentage scoring chances. To make things worse, they are one of the worst teams in the league at giving up high-percentage opportunities against. It will only be a matter of time before teams start converting on their power plays and high danger scoring chances and the Capitals. This statistic is extra worrisome for me considering we have the youngest goalie tandem in the league. The Capitals need to shoot more and get pucks on net. On the defensive side, they need to be more disciplined all-around.
Looking forward to Tuesday nights game. I am hoping we get another look at Vitek Vanecek in net. He played phenomenal in his NHL debut and I would love to see him again. I am fired up just thinking about it so I would imagine the team would be too if he gets the nod. Also, I expect Laviolette to take Daniel Sprong out of the lineup and throw Conor Sheary in there against his former team. The 4th-line with Sprong was real shaky today.
Alex Ovechkin tallied his first goal of the season and 707th goal of his career to put himself one behind Mike Gartner (and 7th place) on the all-time goal scoring list.
As always, thanks for reading. Go Caps!