MONTREAL | Going into most home stands, a 3-1-0 record would be more than acceptable. The Washington Capitals wrapped up this one with a victory over the rival Pittsburgh Penguins and a couple division wins, but the rest of the numbers aren’t so encouraging:
Shot differential: -51
The Caps were outshot 133-82 in these four games at Verizon Center, three of which were against the three worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
“Every team plays different. You can go over the blue line and take a slap shot there instead of dumping it in the corner. Just take a slap shot from the blue line and it’s a shot on net,” coach Dale Hunter reasoned. “We definitely have to get more pucks to the net.”
Here’s the game-by-game breakdown:
Vs. Penguins: Outshot 30-21
Vs. Lightning: Outshot 31-20
Vs. Hurricanes: Outshot 44-24
Vs. Islanders: Outshot 28-17
Goal differential: 0
The Caps had three one-goal wins and a three-goal defeat, the first time they’ve been shut out all season. Winning close games can be seen as a good thing.
“You’re not going to have the three, four-goal wins. Everybody’s scratching and clawing and playing desperate hockey,” veteran right wing Mike Knuble said. “It’s just going to be how it’s going to go the rest of the year. The more you play in those situations, the more comfortable you are.”
Or it could be seen as Washington playing on the edge.
“Just because we have the lead doesn’t mean we want to change our game a whole lot,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “We may not want to take those risky chances that we might in a tie game or if we’re down a couple goals, but when we have the lead, we’ve got to focus on getting pucks deep.”
Tomas Vokoun starts: 4
Now it’s 10 in a row for the 35-year-old goaltender. His save percentage on the home stand was a remarkable .938, and he surrendered a total of seven goals.
Having to face 133 shots in four games is not something Vokoun considers a problem. But offense lacking on the other end is an issue.
“We didn’t score goal [against the Islanders Tuesday]. Obviously that hurt the most,” Vokoun said. “You can’t win when you don’t score goals.”