Sunday, January 20, 2013

Caps get off to inauspicous start

Last night's performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning is not the start the Capitals or us fans were hoping for. Evident was the free flowing offensive system that new coach Adam Oates said he would instill, but the tight defense was not.
Braden Holtby was frequently looking through screens and the Lightning consistently waked away at rebounds Holtby left loose in front of the net because the Capitals defense failed to keep them out of the crease.
Washington's penalty kill was also atrocious, allowing three goals and doing little to prevent Tampa Bay from setting up their power play or clear the puck out of their zone when they had chances. The Lightning were able to freely pass the puck and take shots which is one reason they were able to strike three times.
The Capitals did come back from three one-goal deficits and struck once on the power play themselves, the first of Joel Wards two tallies.
Newcomers Mike Riberio and Wojtek Wolski turned in strong performances, even hooking up on the Capitals third goal. Riberio skated hard into the Lightning zone, threw a backhander on net and Wolski punched home the rebound.
The effects of the lockout and lack of a normal training camp was evident last night as the Capitals clearly are not comfortable in Oates system, and tired as the game went on.
Washington came out skating hard and dictating play, but by the middle of the second period there was a clear lack of energy in the Capitals and they found themselves trying to fend off the Tampa push.
Fans are going to over blow the loss because of the expectations coming into the season. We've heard of how Riberio will improve the offense because he's a legit second line center, and how Oates balanced system will allow the Capitals to take advantage of the offensive talents of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and company.
We're also felt we have a legit number one goaltender in Holtby after his playoff performance last year, and watched him struggle mightily last night.
The flaws the Capitals showed last night should not be ignored by the coaching staff, but it was the first game in over six-months for many players, and it's going to take time for the players to learn Oates's system.
Last night was not wasn't the start everyone hoped for, but it is not the first game of a lost season, either.

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