The Washington Capitals have just three goals in their last three games. Saturday they lost 2-1 in Colorado, a defeat that had defenseman Karl Alzner pondering why his team’s been having trouble putting pucks in the net.
“I think, from my point of view, we went back to making the dumb little mistakes that we weren’t doing the last game, at least,” Alzner told Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.com. “We weren’t just chipping pucks in and then getting in on the forecheck. We were trying to make plays at the offensive blue line.”
And who, pray tell, was guilty of doing that?
Go ahead and take a wild guess.
Loosely translated, I hear this: [Alex] Ovechkin and [Alex] Semin have exceptional talent, but if opposing defenses are standing them up at the blue line, they need to dump the puck in and retrieve it instead of trying to make plays at the blue line and running the risk of turning the puck over.
This is hardly a new issue for the Caps. The Tampa Bay Lightning stacked the blue line against Washington in the playoffs, and instead of chipping and chasing, the Caps kept trying to carry it in, to no avail.
So yeah, Ovechkin and Semin need to do a better job reading defenses. However, chipping and chasing all the time isn’t the answer. Not with the talent the Caps boast up front. Fact is, the occasional turnover at the blue line is going to happen, particularly to teams with players that can score off the rush.
Case in point, Henrik Sedin had two horrendous turnovers entering the offensive zone against the Leafs last night, one of which led to a Toronto goal.
But Alain Vigneault isn’t about to tell the Sedins to start dumping it in.
Ultimately, it’s about finding the right balance between carrying the puck over the line and chipping it in. Same as in football, where you have to run the ball to open up the pass, and vice-versa. Otherwise a team becomes too predictable.