If you haven’t noticed, there’ve been a lot of blocked shots in the playoffs. Many of them in the Capitals-Rangers series.
The increasing tendency for all five defenders to collapse around the goalie has forced coaches to make adjustments on offense.
As the Washington Times reports, one of the ways the Capitals have responded is by working the puck down low and getting the cycle going.
“We wanted to make sure that if we had the chance, we get it to the net. But when we didn’t, we had to get it behind the net and start a cycle and get the puck to the net,” forward Keith Aucoin said. “It’s tough. You want the puck in front of the net; you want clear shots. But we’ve been playing pretty good as a team cycling as a team and we’re getting used to it. I thought we did a pretty good job [Saturday] when we got the puck behind the net. We’ve got to continue to cycle and wear them down.”
On a side note, if collapsing around the goalie is the new way to play defense, you have to wonder if we’ll see an even bigger premium placed on power forwards that can take the puck down low and just barge their way to the net. It’s not pretty to watch, but repeatedly firing away from the perimeter isn’t a winning strategy against good shot-blocking teams.