Welcome to the Capitals Weekly as we look back at the past week for the Washington Capitals as they took on the Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Buffalo Sabres. Plus we take a look at news and storylines that took place during the week of December 5th though 11th.
- Monday, December 5th, 2021 – Anaheim Ducks v. Washington Capitals
- At home for their matchup against the Ducks, the Caps look to avenge their overtime loss from three weeks ago against the youthful team from Anaheim. In the first period Tom Wilson would net his 100th career NHL goal to get the scoring started for the Caps. However, going into the second period the Ducks would strike nine seconds into the period to tie the game at one. Then Carl Hagelin would finally score for his first of the season, but it would be spoiled by back to back goals from Sonny Milano and Vinni Lettieri to give the Ducks their first lead of the game. With 21 seconds left in the second period John Carlson would strike to tie the game at three for the Caps. After a scoreless third period and a scoreless extra five minutes of hockey would force the shootout, and it would be Carlson again to give the Caps the 4-3 victory over the Ducks, and their first overtime/shootout victory of the season.
- While the highlights of the game was Wilson’s 100th, Hagelin’s first of the season, and Carlson giving the Caps their first victory in overtime/shootout, it’s a lot of the more noticeable things that caught my attention. For one, the Caps were having difficulty containing the Ducks speed. The Ducks were able to generate a lot of really solid possession time as a result of their youth utilizing their speed to make the Caps defense struggle. Also defensively for both teams, they both struggled around their own net. All six goals scored were in the slot area which showed that neither team was truly defensively sound as they couldn’t keep players out of the high danger zones. Also overtime itself just sucked. Both teams looked like they weren’t really tying with the exception of Alex Ovechkin’s drive late in the overtime period. Getting the win in the shootout was huge for the Caps, but they need to win during the 3v3 overtime period too, and that they still have yet to do.
- Friday, December 10th, 2021 – Pittsburgh Penguins v. Washington Capitals
- Going into their Friday night tilt with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Caps were on a two game winning streak, and to start the game the Caps felt a little flat. Late in the period Danton Heinen would score to give the Pens the 1-0 lead. The Caps would be outshot 11-6 by the Pens in the period. In the second period Brock McGinn and Kasperi Kapanen would score to give the Pens the 3-0 lead, that wouldn’t be the only story to the period as McGinn would hit Caps defenseman Martin Fehervary in the head and would knock him out of the game, which would not see a penalty called or any supplemental discipline after the game, and late in the period Marcus Petterson would do a dangerous trip on Tom Wilson which would send him falling into Tristan Jarry and crash into the net and take him out for the rest of the game as well. While Petterson would get called for tripping, it would be for an earlier trip that he was already going to get called for, and he also would not see any discipline after the game either. Then in the third period the Caps would start the period with a full two minute powerplay as Jeff Carter would be called for hooking after the second period had ended, but the Caps would not do much with their powerplay opportunity. However, later in the third Evgeny Kuznetsov would get one past Jarry to give the Caps life, and then Lars Eller would score a beauty to get the Caps within one, but Carter would get the empty netter to give the Penguins the 4-2 victory over the Capitals.
- In all honesty, and I’m saying this as someone who was watching this game live in person, it felt like the Caps were missing some of their luster. For a game against a rival the Caps looked like they weren’t playing to their full potential. The Pens were more physical, and they did an amazing job taking away passing lanes and making difficult to get into their zone. While the Caps came alive in the third period, it felt too little too late for them.
- Saturday, December 11th, 2021 – Washington Capitals v. Buffalo Sabres
- Coming off a tough loss to their rival Penguins, the Caps head up to Buffalo to take on the Sabres. In the first period the Caps would start strong as Lars Eller would strike to give the Caps the early 1-0 lead, but Vinnie Hinostroza would tally to tie the game at one for the Sabres. The Caps would continue to struggle in the second period as the Sabres would get the better of the chances starting with a shot off the post that would hit off of Vitek Vanecek and just trickle wide of the net which would be followed up with Will Butcher’s first of the season to give the Sabres the 2-1 lead. Then in the third period Martin Fehervary would rip a bullet to get the Caps back on the board as he would tie the game, and send it to overtime. Overtime felt like a waste. Alex Ovechkin had a great highlight reel moment but couldn’t seal the deal. Then in the shootout TJ Oshie would clinch the victory over the Sabres as the Caps would take the 3-2 win.
- The Caps went into the game with a great start as they would strike first, but then after the midway point of the first period Buffalo would take over and control the play over the Caps. That would continue until the third period when Martin Fehervary would strike to tie the game at two to force overtime. The powerplay was abysmal once again. One has to wonder how much longer Blaine Forsythe will have a job given how he hasn’t made any true attempts to change up the powerplay. Good the Caps go the win, but they need to fix a few things.
News and Notes
- Tom Wilson became day to day with an upper body injury that he suffered on Friday night against the Penguins.
- The powerplay struggles once again, and Blaine Forsythe still hasn’t done anything of note to changes things up. The Caps need to make changes to the powerplay system as all of the teams know what the Caps are trying to do, and can easily defend it. While people will argue that due to players out because of injuries and COVID that it’s affected the powerplay, and it has, but at the same time you need to make changes to accommodate the fact that you’re missing guys and to make things less predictable.
Wednesday, December 15th, 2021 – @ Chicago Blackhawks – 8p ET
TV: SN, TVAS, NBCSCH, NBCSWA
Friday, December 17th, 2021 – @ Winnipeg Jets – 8p ET
TV: TSN3, NBCSWA