At a loss

I'm not sure what all I want to say about them, but I thought I should say something about the performance of the Caps.

The Caps have played five games since I last talked about them, the results being three wins followed by three losses (all games decided in regulation).

The Caps did not do especially well against the Red Wings, but got lucky with an early goal by Brouwer on the power play.  The Capitals got some backhanded help, too, when Howard injured himself on that play.  They scored twice more in the second on Mrazek, getting a little more luck.

Ericsson got one back just before the end of the second, but the Caps were able to hold it together without further scoring through the third.

In all, outplayed but they did have some strong plays that carried them through.

The Avalanche were next, and the Caps did well against them.  Beagle got the only goal of the first (I think it was a rebound of a Chimera shot), despite the Caps generally not doing great through that period.

In the second and third, though, the Caps turned it on and played very strongly.  Their only goal was an OV power play marker, but they only allowed one goal, by Tanguay on the power play, to go with it.  So Holtby outplayed Varly, though Varly did have a bit more work.  Both, however, were called on to make some pretty tough saves.

The Flyers game, as I think I alluded to in another post, I missed entirely.  Verdammt changes in channels.  But the Caps did reasonably well, getting an early goal an holding on to make that good enough.

Next were the Preds, with Trotz making his first return to Nashville since coming to Washington.  And it was quite a mixed bag.  They didn't do well through the first, with Seth Jones scoring the only goal on a wrister off a face-off.

Neal got a lucky bounce off a skate to give the Preds a two-goal advantage, early in the second.  Then OV struck twice, both one-timers from his normal spot.  The first looked like his normal power play goal, except that Alzner fed the pass instead of Green, Carlson, or Niskanen.  The second was a one-timer from his normal spot on the power play, except that the feed came out of the corner, via Brouwer (and it looked like a broken play, except that I've never seen Brouwer make a no-look pass like that one, so I'm not sure).

When MarJo scored, early in the third on the power play (nice determination on a stuff play; took him three tries), it looked like the Caps were going to cruise home.  Then Ekholm scored on the power play with 4 1/2 left, then Neal made a lucky pretty steal of a cross-ice, D-to-D, saucer pass and beat Holtby with a minute and a half left.

The Caps tried to tie it up again late, but weren't really able to control the puck in the offensive zone.

Finally, the Caps faced the Stars in a wild one that I turned off after the first period (they were looking pretty terrible up to that point).  They went down three-love, then tied it up early in the third, then surrendered two more, sixteen seconds apart, then got a late one to make it close again.

But that was the end of the scoring, and the Caps came home empty-handed.

I'm looking at the Corsi numbers now, and my feelings seem largely borne out.  The Caps did not do well, 5-on-5 close in Detroit (horrible, actually), nor great in Dallas (though closer than I'd've guessed), but were dominant in Nashville (which is a surprise; I didn't think they did poorly, but not nearly that well), Philadelphia, and Colorado.  The lowest of those latter three was 55.4%, which is very good.

As far as players, the offensive lines haven't changed much (other than the occasional musical chair at top-line left wing.  Bura's mostly been there, but several others are getting a shift or two a game).  OV and Backstrom are largely keeping the team afloat, killing it despite tough opposition.  Kuzya, MarJo, and Brouwer are doing pretty well, with MarJo getting most of the line's goals (who'd'a thunk it?).  And Fehr, Laich, and Ward continue to be a pretty decent shut-down line.

Wilson's been in that spot on the top line occasionally, but has mostly been on the fourth line.  Color me surprised, but he's still drawing penalties while there, so that's fantastic.  And while the line hasn't generated a lot of offense, they've done a good job keeping play in the offensive end of the ice.  If that's all that line does, I'd still call it a successful line (since it's the fourth).  And they have scored a few.

Beagle's been playing.  While I'm not thrilled with that, the results have not been bad.  As I said, that line has looked pretty decent.

Defensively, I believe Schmidt came back for one game (and I was hoping that was a sign that Trotz had realized Schmidt is the better player), but then got sent down, and then injured (and is out for several more weeks).  So Hillen has been getting a lot of playing time.  He's actually looked pretty good when I've noticed him, but his numbers are still pretty bad, despite heavy sheltering.

Alzner's looking better, offensively, but I'm a little concerned that his Corsi numbers aren't great.  I wonder if he's giving up something on the back end when he's getting more involved in the offense.  Nothing I can put my finger on, but I do wonder.

Niskanen's Corsi numbers have improved since I last looked, though he does seem to have gotten quite a few penalties.  I hope that's just an aberation, because this team definitely needs to stay out of the box.

On the goalie front, Peters finally played in the Dallas game, and was even down in the AHL for a bit.  So I'm not encouraged about Trotz keeping Holtby in good shape, despite the results over the span.  My one hope is that Korn is keeping a close eye on Holtby, and has been sure Holtby was in good shape.  Still, I'm worried about him being burnt out; he's too good to be wasted for a nothing stretch in the middle of the season.

Overall, despite how the Nashville game ended, it's hard to be upset, or even disappointed, with the overall results.

Let's hope the good feelings continue tonight, against Edmonton (who have, I believe, despite being around the bottom of the league overall, beaten the Caps the last several times they've played).  Go Caps!

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