The Washington Capitals woes continued on last night in Manitoba,Canada, home of the Winnipeg Jets. After the capitals took a 1-0 lead on an Alexander Semin goal in the first period, the Jets fleeced the Caps for three unanswered goals. Michal Neuvirth took the loss, allowing 3 goals on 31 shots.
No doubt the Caps are struggling. Last night's loss drops The Caps to 1-4-1 over their last 6 games and overall record to 10-6-1, after winning seven consecutive to start the season. You can point the finger at the reoccuring menace that started the skid. The Capitals failed to establish any fore check, stupid penalties at inopportune times, and committed costly turnovers. Those are the Capitals primary menaces: turnovers, poor defensive protection, and penalties. The fact is, the current Capitals barely even resemble the Caps that won seven straight in October. They have fallen into a harsh funk they need to work out. It is a funk that has thus far produced a dismal 3-4-1 November.
Nicklas Backstrom has not recorded a point in three straight games. Alexander Ovechkin continues to struggle to regain dominant player status. In his last 6 games, Ovechkin has just one goal. After scoring at least one point in the first seven games, Dennis Wideman has scored just 2 points in the last seven games. Third line production, which was a significant factor in the hot season start, has cooled. Joe Ward is scoreless in six straight games, Brooks Laich has 2 assists in his last 5 games, and Jason Chimera has 3 points in his last 7 games. Third line has not been that bad, but the production has certainly cooled. What’s the point? The point is, the team as whole is struggling, rather than pointing to one single player.
However, the struggle of the Russians is evident.
There is no doubt the Capitals are missing the dominating presence of Ovechkin and Semin. The Russian stars' production is down this season. Take a look. The table below reflects total points through the first 17 games of each season.
I have no doubt that Ovie will have a break out. And soon. Until then, the Capitals have to look for other ways to generate scores.
Alexander Semin has faired no better. Really unbelievable, considering Semin is in a contract year. But more so than just scoring, Semin is costing Washington dearly in the penalty box. Again last night, Semin drew another penalty in the second period. He has now gone 6 consecutive games with spending time in the sin bin. It is not like Semin's undisciplined play is a new development. It's typical. However, the spot light is shining brighter on his erratic play this season, mostly because there is little makeup for the penalties on the scoring sheet. Here is a look at Semin's penalties through the first 17 games.
The fact is, there are plenty of factors that are attributable to Washington's latest skid on the ice. Laziness, undisciplined play, turnovers, power play disorganization, failure to get after the puck, and on, and on, and on. But, for Washington to break out of this and play at the level most expected, the two Russian stars need to get moving. Semin's tally last night gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead they could not hang onto. Whether this is a start of an offensive up ramp for Semin is yet to be seen. Ovechkin's 5 shots on net was only the second time this season, but it happened last night. Those are two minor positives out of an otherwise dismal affair in Manitoba.