Caps in need of offensive production vs. Canes

Ben Krimmel
April 20, 2019 - 2:21 pm

There's a simple solution to the Capitals problems: They need to score. 

Simplistic? Yes. But in the Stanley Cup Playoffs Occam's razor dominates.

The simplest way for Washington re-assert control of their destiny after letting a 2-0 series lead slip in Carolina is to score more goals. 

The problem for the Caps: They've been too reliant on their top two lines to provide all the scoring. The third and fourth lines have to pick up the slack.

“We’ve got to find ways to generate offense," Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said Friday. "It’s always tougher to create in the playoffs. You know, teams don’t give up quite as much on the rush. They’re a lot more committed to not giving up odd-man rushes to the opposition. We’ve got to find a way to get in on the forecheck more and impose a little bit more of a physical style of play on their defense."

Friday on The Sports Junkies, The Athletic's Tarik El-Bashir said this is an X's and O's problem Washington must solve to beat Carolina's pressure.

"(The Canes) are really voracious on the forecheck," he said. "It seems like every time the Capitals gain control of the puck in their own end, and they're looking to break it out, there's two guys, sometimes three guys, on them and they struggle to get those clean zone exits." 

"And there's ways to get around that X's and O's wise. I'm not saying the Capitals aren't working hard, I would just say right now the Hurricanes are out-scheming them and there are some tweaks that the coaches are going to have to make," El-Bashir said on 106.7 The Fan.

Washington also has to deal with the loss of forward T.J. Oshie to injury after a check from behind by Warren Foegele likely knocked the Caps forward out of the playoffs. (The NHL declined to discipline Foegele for the hit.)

“There’s a void there, for sure,” Reirden said. “I’m not going to downplay that. And to me, it’s up to who steps up and takes advantage of that opportunity.”

Friday afternoon the Capitals recalled forward Devante Smith-Pelly to possibly provide more offense for the Capitals and energize Washington's forechecking.

“I don’t think we’ve been as physical on our forecheck as we could have hoped after four games of evaluating,” Reirden said. “Some of it is that we’re not getting in enough to forecheck. And when we are, we haven’t been as physical as maybe we have been in past series in a prior time.”

The Capitals also could use more production out of forward Jakub Vrana, who tallied 47 points in the regular season (24 goals, 23 assists), and has yet to record a point in the playoffs.

"Yeah, I haven’t found the net lately, I know that," Vrana said Friday. "I’ve been working on it in today’s practice, and (Saturday) is a new game.”

“In playoffs, it’s the little things that can decide a game,” Vrana said. “You’re going to go hard to the net and try to provide offense there. Sometimes the goal isn’t going to be pretty. It can be rebounds, it can be tips. You just have to get into those areas and try to somehow attack their goalie and attack their net."

And no matter how ugly the goals may be, the Capitals are in serious need of them.

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