Monday, March 14, 2016

Third period Caps

Are the third period Caps going to be the ones playing in the playoffs? It is great for them to come from behind and win games by 1 goal as they try to motivate themselves to finish the regular season, but coming from behind is harder in the playoffs.

The Caps lead their division by 18-points in the standings with 14 games left and they play like it. They give up the first goal with stunning regularity, leading games after the first period just twice in their last 22 games. Then, they play well enough in the third period or during the overtime period or the shootout to come back and win the game most of the time.

The comeback did not work out so well against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night when the Caps lost by three goals. The concern is that the slow starts become an ingrained habit that is not so easy to shake once the playoffs start.

Teams are giving the Caps everything they have got, as is natural when they are playing against the top team in the league. But, effort level of the opponent goes up in the playoffs, not down, so the Caps need to weather the barrages better. The intensity level will continue to increase.

The relentless schedule of games, made worse by two make up games due to the Washington D.C. blizzard the weekend of January 22, 2016, has not helped. The Caps have had 5-6 games in hand on most teams in the league until the 7 games in 12 days spurt that ended in San Jose.

The nagging injuries, including Alex Ovechkin’s are also worrying, particularly, as he goes into a 5-game goal scoring slump. John Carlson is skating and is expected to be back on the ice towards the end of March, but he has been out more than in this season. New players have jointed the Caps in former Toronto Maple Leafs Daniel Winnik and former Buffalo Sabre Mike Weber. Injuries and new line mates messes up the chemistry and takes time to mesh.

Coach Barry Trotz mixes up the line when things get stale and the Caps play too cute so the expectation is that will continue versus the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow. That game will give the Caps, new lines or not, another opportunity to score first, for a change, and come back from an overall mini performance slump. One month left…

Let’s go Caps!

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