Star Power

The Caps went to Big D yesterday 0-9-2 in their last eleven games there, and not having won in regulation Dale Hunter and Mark Tinordi (whose son is now playing for the Canadiens) were mainstays of the team.  I must admit, hearing that at the beginning of the broadcast made me feel much less well about their prospects.

Also, they did say, at the beginning, that Hillen had to get surgery for his leg (knee?  I didn't hear), and is out for several months.  I'm sorry to hear that, although I don't think it'll hurt the Caps much, as there isn't a whole lot of difference between Hillen, Oleksy, Kundratek, and Carrick (and Urbom, too, probably), defensively.

But things did start out pretty well.  Faceoffs weren't going the Caps way, and Dallas had, I think, slightly the better of the play, but it was close.  Then Robidas got whistled for tripping Laich, and the Caps power play went to work.  It took them two times with control in the zone, but they got their preferred play with OV on the empty side throwing Green's sneaky pass into the net (OV was a bit fooled by the pass, too, as he didn't get a chance to wind up).

Play was largely going the Caps way for several minutes after that, but Erskine blew his back-side coverage four minutes later, and left Cole open in the slot to tie the game.  Erskine took a penalty a couple minutes later, as well.

At the end of the period, shots were about even, as well as scoring chances (although both favored Dallas).

There wasn't a whole lot going on in the second period.  The Caps were mostly playing better, and hit the goalposts several times (four total, for the game, I believe).  They also has a Backstrom goal disallowed, as the followthrough on his shot (hitting the puck out of the air) hit Lehtonen in the mask.  It was initially ruled a goal (which surprised me, although I couldn't see him hit the puck at full speed), but then ruled not to be a goal.  Very weird officiating, it seemed to me.

Four minutes after that, Chiasson scored off an assist by Eakin.  This one, Holtby probably should have had, although it was a very near, and not defensively contested, shot.

The third period was one long session of frustration.  The Caps were getting increasingly desperate, but were effectively stymied by Dallas, with the result that there were almost no shots in the period (only ten by both teams, combined).  The Caps only managed to get set up in the zone a couple times, and never for very long.  They did come close to tying things several times (as well as nearly losing it one time, when Seguin put it off the inside of the post), but were never able to put it over the line.

Oates, I think, deserves a bit of criticism here, as he allowed Green to play too much of the third (in fact, Green and Carlson were out together for very long stretches of the third), and the Caps passing needs to get crisper (there were a lot of passes in people's feet or just out of reach), but mostly it was just some bad luck.  They certainly had some chances.

The power play has, amazingly, improved on last season (50% so far).  The PK has managed to improve to around league average for last year.  But they just can't find the back of the net at even strength.  Given the relative amounts of ice-time, you really don't want 60% of your scoring to be on the power play (plus, there's no question that 50% is unsustainable).

There's been a bit of bad luck, and Holtby has been underperforming, so far, but it's a bit discouraging.

On the plus side, they have a few days until Carolina comes to visit on Thursday.

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