The Caps are sure off to a cold start. The 0-3 record is bad enough, but how they've gotten there has been even worse. They've been taking too many penalties (18), been doing a horrible job killing those penalties (7 goals allowed), failed to clear their own zone too often, and really not given sufficient effort, even.
There's just no way to sugar-coat it. They've looked bad, and have been outplayed every bit as badly as their 14-6 goal differential would indicate. Making it worse, their best players haven't been their best players. OV and Backstrom have three assists between them; that's not bad, except there's no goals to go with them. Not only are those two the two best players on the team, but they also kept playing during the lockout, so they should be in the best shape.
The goals have come from Crabb (the lone goal tonight), Hendricks (a nice one in the first game), Ward (a pair of ugly ones in the first game), Brouwer, and Wolski. That's a very nice amount coming from people who were supposed to be the team's "secondary" scoring. For being the whole team? Terrible.
I'm hoping a large percentage of this has to do with the lack of a preseason, but it certainly doesn't excuse the failure in effort, especially in the home opener (which depressed me enough that I just didn't feel up to writing about it).
They're giving up way too many odd-man breaks the other way, and aren't even getting those rushes themselves. Actually, now that I think about it, I can't remember any odd-man rushes by the Caps. Ow.
Getting Laich back will help (I hope he'll be third-line center when he returns; I like him a lot more there than I do as a second line winger), but he's only one person. There are still lots of problems with defensive coverage, especially back-checking failures.
I don't know; this is frustrating, and I'm hoping that a system starts to become more apparent. It'd be nice if the PK could stop the other team occasionally. Clearing the zone successfully after getting the puck would be a good start.
Bleh. Tonight's game was so encouraging, I turned it off after the second period. I used to get perturbed, a couple of seasons ago, about all the times the team went into the third down by two or three goals. That was annoying, but at least they seemed to have a fighting chance of making it up, back then. Didn't appreciate how good we had it, I suppose.