Washington Capitals: Fixing their Power Play is critical in playoffs

Tom Wilson, Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Tom Wilson, Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Washington Capitals power play needs to improve.

For the Washington Capitals to have a successful Stanley Cup playoff run this year, they need to fix their power play. When one thinks of the Caps power play it should be one of the strongest in the league.

With weapons like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and John Carlson, it should light up the lamp night after night. It did in the early going but over the final three months before the season was paused, they struggled.

In contests played through Nov. 30, the Caps were fifth in the NHL on the power play with a success rate of 25.3 percent (22 for 87). After that they dropped down to 30th at 15.5 percent (20 for 129).

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The Caps tried numerous things to fix their power play including shifting Ovechkin from his office on the left circle to the right side.

After one Jan. contest against the Philadelphia Flyers where the Caps fell 3-2 they also had one of their worst showings on the power play going 0-for-5. Putting it bluntly, Backstrom said, “That’s on us.”

In an article by Samantha Pell of The Washington Post (subscription required), Backstrom added, “I think we were just a little too passive. Even if we are at a one-man advantage, we need to be a little more desperate, I think, and, yeah, it’s all about execution, too. If you execute plays good things happen, and we weren’t on the same page tonight.”

In that contest the Caps had just five shots on goal in those 10 minutes. To make matters worse they even gave up a shorthanded breakaway goal from Kevin Hayes. The Caps will face the Flyers in the upcoming round robin, an opponent who had plenty of momentum before the pause.

In Washington’s final 10 games before the pause the team went 2-for-23, just 8.7 percent in that stretch on the power play. The Caps will likely have a power play lineup of Oshie, Backstrom, Ilya Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, and Carlson on the first unit. The second unit will likely boast Tom Wilson, Kuznetsov, Lars Eller, Ovechkin, and Dmitry Orlov.

The Caps overall rank 17th in the NHL in power play success with a percentage of 19.4. The Tampa Bay Lightning are fifth with a 23.1 percent success rate. The Boston Bruins are even better, ranked second in the NHL with a 25.2 percent success rate. The Philadelphia Flyers are 14th with a 20.8 percent success rate.

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Needless to say, the Caps power play will be one thing the team will be looking to fix come playoff time. Hopefully they’ll get the practice they need at training camp and we’ll see more power play goals in the playoffs.