Well, the Caps' trip down to the Sunshine State didn't go all that well. They brought home one of the four points they could have earned, leaving Florida ahead by a point for the division lead with a game in hand.
And yet, I'm not terribly upset. Mildly disappointed, yes, but actually feeling a bit better about how they played. Shot totals were moving in the right direction; they were still outshot (and outchanced in FLA; I didn't see the chance numbers for TAM. Verdammt NBC Sports), but at least it was closer.
Neuvy had an odd night last night; he looked great quite often, but also let in a couple of clunkers (especially the first one; although kudos to Samuelsson for being able to put the puck on-net from that range when not looking).
Sarge managed to get onto the ice last night; I was surprised, as I thought he was in team purgatory. Still, as usual, he looked decent, if unspectacular.
Rechlicz managed to get signed, in an odd choice. He tried to get a couple of people to drop the gloves in his two and a half minutes of play. Sadly, no one was willing to take him up on that. Let's hope that he can convince Bourque to do so when they face Montreal on Saturday. With Backstrom still out, I wouldn't mind him taking a bit more punishment.
In any event, getting back to the play, I'm still not thrilled that they're riding the edge of competitiveness so much. Getting OV back will help a lot, and will Backstrom and Green (whenever those happen), but they really need to stop trying to turn every game into a coin flip.
They really need to focus on sustained offensive pressure; sitting back against withering attacks by the other team is just a terrible way to play. I did like that, interviewed during one of the two games, Hunter said that the problem with the power play is that they need to take more shots. That's definitely not just a power play problem.
Actually, the biggest problem with the power play are the zone entries. Once they get the puck into the zone, the power play looks quite good. But they spend too much time trying to get into the zone. They should really be looking to control the puck in the zone at least half of the times they skate up the ice. I think they're more like 1/4 (maybe less).
But I'm glad that Hunter is aware that they aren't shooting enough.
The only really good thing I can say about recent play is that they very rarely give up odd-man rushes. That's certainly a good thing, but seems to come at the cost of not being able to puck up-ice (the only thing I can think of is that they're not spreading the ice enough on the break-out, so they're easy to defend. But that's just a guess).
There's glimmers of hope, but not large ones. I'm about ready to close the book on Hunter already, sadly. We'll see; there is quite a bit of season left.