The Washington Capitals bottom six forwards need to find the back of the net.
Through the first three games of the series between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, the team has been carried goal wise by its top two lines. While the third and fourth lines have generated pressure, they haven’t solved Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Evgeny Kuznetsov have scored against Fleury. Many bottom six forwards are struggling to find the net.
The third line of Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller and Tom Wilson has done a good job of generating pressure and offensive zone time in this series. Each skater has had a lot of chances, but have been snakebitten to this point in the series. For the Capitals to tie the series on Thursday in Pittsburgh, they need their depth scorers to contribute.
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This is one of the Capitals forwards that you can really call snakebitten. He has had multiple chances in every game this series, but hasn’t found the scoresheet. Burakovsky has 16 shots on goal in the playoffs, but that number would double if he hit the net every time.
The amount of high-danger chances he gets per game without scoring is driving many Capitals fans insane. You can definitely say he is due for a goal or two, and it would help the Capitals immensely if he found a way to turn on the red light.
Eller was acquired at the 2016 NHL Draft from the Montreal Canadiens to take over as the Capitals third line center. He had 12 goals and 13 assists during the regular season, along with strong two-way play. Eller’s board play was also a valuable asset for the Capitals.
In the postseason, Eller has no goals, and 3 assists. He has played well on a line with Wilson and Burakovsky. Similar to his line-mates, has not scored yet in 9 playoff games. If one player on this third line can score against Fleury, it will motivate his linemates. Eller has good possession numbers this series and he is due for a goal as well.
Jay Beagle had a career year for the Capitals, posting 13 goals and 17 assists. Beagle was also their best face-off man with a 56.4% win rate. He is another skater that needs to elevate his offensive play. He has not found the scoresheet against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The fourth line that Beagle centers has often been matched with Evgeny Malkin’s line and the Penguins have had success exploiting that matchup. If Beagle and the fourth line can get more offensive zone time, they’ll get more shots on Fleury.
Pittsburgh has an array of injuries to some of their key players, including their captain Sidney Crosby. Today he was declared out for Game 4 with a concussion. The Penguins will be full of emotion in Game 4, and the Capitals need to be prepared with their own attack. If the Capitals bottom six scoring wakes up from their slumber, the Capitals will have a much better chance to tie the series 2-2.