So, what exactly is wrong with the power play? The Washington Capitals are 1-for-10 in this series and 4-for-29 in the playoffs, the second-worst among teams still playing.
“I think we want to bring the tempo up, make the passes a little quicker, a little crispier,” forward Brooks Laich said. “Our power play, when it seems to score, it seems like we watch the video and it goes bang, bang, boom around, shot, attack, and it looks very sharp and crisp.”
And when the power play’s not scoring, it might be because there’s too much of the Caps moving their feet.
“Sometimes we’re drifting a little bit: Make a pass and drift a little bit, instead of passing and stopping and staying in your exact position,” Laich said. “A couple feet on the power play here or there really change. As a penalty killer I know that a couple feet really matters. Just be a little more crisp, a little more sharp and really try and put the pressure on them to defend.”
In stretches, the Caps’ puck movement has been excellent. They’ve set up good weakside chances, with Alex Ovechkin or others just missing the net or New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist just making a save.
“We had a couple good shots and they just didn’t go,” defenseman Dennis Wideman said. “It’s tough against these guys. They kill really good. They’re smart up top, their forwards are good. But when we have the play, we’ve got to make it.”
It’s sometimes hard to concentrate on patience when the crowd’s yelling “shoot,” though Wideman said it doesn’t affect him.
“Sometimes you can hear them yelling shoot, but you can’t just shoot. That’s not how it works,” he quipped. “You can’t just skate over the blue line and shoot it. Because then it gets blocked and then they shoot it all the way back down and that kills another 30 seconds to go back and get it and come back down.”
That’s one of the keys for the Caps, Troy Brouwer said: getting second and third shots and not letting the Rangers clear out easy shots that Lundqvist turns aside.
“We’ve got to make sure that our puck recoveries are better, too. Whenever we take a shot, it seems like we’re skating all the way down the ice to break out again,” the right wing said. “We’ve got to make sure that after a shot is taken, guys are converging on the net and making sure that we’re jumping on loose pucks in the corner or in front of the net and trying to make it so that we don’t have to break out again.”
Given that Lundqvist isn’t a goaltender prone to getting lit up, and given the tightness of this series, getting a goal or two on the power play can be the difference.
“You always want to score. We had some good chances on it. Get more pucks, more traffic to the net. The penalty-killers are working hard so you gotta match their work ethic,” coach Dale Hunter said. “We got to outwork them on the power plays to get scoring chances.”