Well, the player meeting and importance of the last night fell on deaf ears, as the Washington Capitals fell to the Phoenix Coyotes in the first of a five game road trip. The first Caps goal never even came off the stick of a Washington Capitals, but off the back of Martin Hanzal. That's how bad Washington's offense is right now. They have to rely on freak goals like that.
For the past month and half or more, may of us, including HC Bruce Boudreau, have been asking, what is wrong? Where did the dynamic offense in DC go? Most of have good guesses, but none of us really know. The power play sucks. The top line is non-existent. Secondary scoring is lacking. You can't consistently point fingers at goal tending, like a lot of media analysts like to, because the Caps are so young in the net. The goalies are not the problem. You can't blame the defense. Overall, Washington is playing far better defense this season than they have the past two seasons. The problem solely lies in lack of offense.
First of all, take Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin average over his first five years, at this point, about 38 goals scored. This season, just 21 goals. Not only is Ovechkin' scoring down, but his passing is up. Ovechkin simply is not being selfish enough, trying to placate and spread it around entirely too much. Additionally, an element of luck is non-existent for Great 8 this season, as you could see many goals that would have entered the pipes last season, just are not getting that bounce this season. Finally, on Ovechkin, he really, really needs to work on new moves. The famous Ovechkin curl and drag move has been completely neutralized by NHL defenseman. Period. It actually gets old watching Ovie get stonewalled, game in and game out, on the same moves to the net. Creativity would be nice.
Then there is the new highly paid main centerman, Nicklas Backstrom. To me, Nicky is having a pretty poor season. His scoring totals are down, his passing is not as sharp. Many games this season, Backstrom is just not a factor. Nor is he around the net as much. Backstrom has just 14 goals this season, far cry from last season. He may be a fan favorite, but he simply is not providing the bosst as the top line center that he did last season. But, in fairness, lets throw some blame to fellow lineman Mike Knuble. Knuble has had a very significant drop off in scoring. Last season, Knuble put up very solid number, netting 29 goals and adding 24 helpers. This season, so far, just 13 goals and 9 assists. Wow.
Caps fans like to pump up the future when talking about Mathieu Perreault and Marcus Johansson. I do too. But, the fact is, through 56 games, these two combined have just goals and 12 assists. Meanwhile, veteran castaways Eric Belanger and Brendan Morrisonn have a combined 43 points.
Then there is defensive scoring. Start with Mike Green. Few things here. First, he has just 8 goals and 16 assists. His number our way down. Second, Green does one thing fairly well, consistently, and that is get hurt. I am beginning to think that Mike Green may very well be just too fragile. Especially for the cash paid. Green is playing better defensively this season, but his offensive prowess has disappeared. I would not even consider Green an offensive threat this season.
And finally, there is Alexander Semin. Semin you can count on at least being out each season for about 12 games or more. Another fragile player. Semin has 18 goals and 18 assists. After a significant injury layoff, Semin has been back 3 games and recorded just 1 assist. The last two season, Brooks Laich has scored over 20 goals for Washington. This season, just 11.
Meanwhile, between the pipes, Michal Neuvirth has posted a 2.47 GAA and Semyon Varlamov a 2.22 GAA. Again, goal tending is NOT the problem in Washington.
As of right now, the way this team looks to me, there are three things that seem perfectly clear in my vision. First, without bold moves to bolster offense by GM George McPhee, this team ins in trouble. Big trouble. While Philadelphia bolsters their cup run by adding a guy like Versteeg, McPhee sits idly by, watching an epic collapse. Trade deadline approaching, the Caps may very well have to face the fact that some of their protected young talent may have to be dealt away. Second, if the Caps fail to make significant moves to bolster the offense, at best this team is one and done, at worst,we will be rooting elsewhere for the playoffs. Third, and final point, for the past two months, I must admit, my Caps are just down right boring to watch. Just gawd-awful boring.
So what are your thoughts. What is wrong with the Caps and how do they fix it. Tell us in our Forum.