Analysis: Lulls cost Capitals again

Analysis: Lulls cost Capitals again
January 15, 2011, 3:34 am
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Friday, January 14, 2011, 10:33 p.m.

By Ryan OHalloran
Staff writer
CSNwashington.com

In a season full of issues an eight-game losing streak, Nicklas Backstrom without a goal since Dec. 1 and a current power play drought (1-for-21) the Capitals added a new wrinkle during a lost week that ended Friday with a 4-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks:

Bouts of sleep-skating.

Tuesday: Fell behind to Florida 3-0 in the first 27 minutes. The Capitals salvaged a point via an overtime loss.

Wednesday: Spotted Tampa Bay a 2-0 first-period lead. The Lightning posted a 3-0 victory.

Friday: Against the NHLs best team, the Capitals were outshot 29-16 and trailed 3-1 through two periods and never seemed to have the puck.

Finally, though, the Capitals awoke but it was too late and theyve lost three straight games after a 6-0-2 stretch.

Not stringing together 60 serviceable minutes is a disturbing trend for the Capitals, who host Ottawa on Sunday before playing five of their next seven away from Verizon Center. Good road hockey is surviving the opponents initial wave. Good home hockey, meanwhile, is taking advantage of an early 1-0 lead.

The Capitals did neither this week.

When Matt Hendricks beat Roberto Luongo just 5:50 into the game, the Capitals finally had a first-period lead.

Their response was allowing Vancouver to score the next three goals.

We worked better in the third but we have to figure out a way to do it for 60 minutes, Hendricks said. Maybe were expecting its going to be a little easier than it is and dont have to do the final details and dirty work to get a W.

Dirty goals have long been an issue for the Capitals. They have a ton of skill on the perimeter to score world-class goals but there still isnt enough traffic in front of the net.

Boudreau pointed to the Canucks as an example of how the Capitals need to play more often.

Their team is obviously very successful right now and when they had that one opportunity, three guys just dove into the net, he said. They didnt score, but thats the hunger you need to have to score.

You also need to shoot. There was simply too much dancing around, especially against an aggressive Vancouver penalty kill. The Capitals power play is in a funk (5-for-63 and no multi-power play goal games since the day after Thanksgiving) making 5-on-5 play even more important.

We tell them to shoot, Boudreau said. Were not telling them to sit back, were not telling them to not shoot the puck and go to the net. Every coach in every league will say the same thing: When youre having a struggle scoring goals, the only way you get out of it is you shoot the puck, you get to the net, you get dirty goals or you tip one. We didnt have it until the third period and it was too late against the best team in the league.

The third period was more of how the Capitals need to play. They outshot Vancouver 11-6, and cut the deficit on Marcus Johanssons one-timer from the left circle with 10:39 remaining.

Were hoping we can build on it, Boudreau said. At the end of the game, I said, Thats the kind of way you have to play for 60 minutes. You cant play this well sit back, score a goal and let them come to us type of game.

You can play a defensive system, but when you have the puck, you need to be aggressive and go after it. Its simple.

Said Backstrom: Of course it gets frustrating when you dont score as soon as you want, but at the same time, you cant just use magic and push a button. Maybe if we play a good game for 60 minutes, it will come.

If the Capitals want to win a fourth Southeast Division title, it better come soon.

Contact Ryan at rohalloran@comcastsportsnet.com