Washington Capitals v. Blue Jackets: They are not the same ole' Caps

After last night’s game, the Caps show that they had been working on their puck handling and passing skills. Photo: Alex Ovechkin / Nick Wass, AP

WASHINGTON, October 19, 2013 — At first glance, Washington Capitals fans might think this is the same team as last year, a team that started the season slow and without intensity. After last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Capitals showed that they had been working on their puck handling and passing skills this off season.

Last year, John Carlson was unusually turnover prone and lackadaisical at times. Last night, a much improved Carlson looked sharp and precise as he weaved in and out of defenders like practice cones. Then, in the third period, Carlson alertly saved a puck from crossing the blue line and preserving their offensive set play.   


SEE RELATED: Around the rink: NHL rule changes affecting hockey play


Martin Erat tallied three assists for the first time in his career since 2010. Erat is proving to be a brilliant acquisition for the Caps. Erat and Nicklas Backstrom are two of the best passers in the NHL. The Capitals were fortunate to have Backstrom but the addition of Erat last year has really strengthened the teams’ passing attack for multiple line changes.

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, stands next to Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, right, of Russia  in Washington. (Nick Wass, AP / FR67404 AP)

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin (8), of Russia, stands next to Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, right, of Russia in Washington. (Nick Wass, AP / FR67404 AP)

The benefit of having two assist-maestros like Backstrom and Erat is magnified when you have last year’s NHL MVP, Alex Ovechkin. Ovi scored in the third period last night to put the game out of reach at four to zero. Although Ovechkin scored from his usual spot, the left side of the power play set, the passing just looks really crisp and like clockwork, especially for this early in the season.

The key to this year’s success will prove to be Braden Holtby’s solidarity in goal. Last night Braden had 37 saves and was quick with his decision making, routinely sweeping the puck out of his area. Holtby only allowed one goal and it did not come until there were 4:55 left in the game.


SEE RELATED: Goodbye to goons: NHL needs to rid itself of the enforcers


Head Coach Adam Oates is still not pleased with the performance of the Capitals so far this year. He was quoted after the game saying “it has been a tough home stand (for the Caps)”.

Oates also feels that the Caps are not where they were at the end of last season in terms of passing and efficiency. However, last night showed promise for the team and it demonstrated that this team has heart and plays with grit.

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin, left, of Russia, celebrates teammate Joel Ward's (42) goal during the second period in Washington. (Nick Wass, AP / FR67404 AP)

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin, left, of Russia, celebrates teammate Joel Ward’s (42) goal during the second period in Washington. (Nick Wass, AP / FR67404 AP)

Even while up by three goals late in the game, the Caps played hard and with intensity until the final horn. Adam Oates seems to have set a bar higher than any other Capitals coach.

He expects a lot out of his players and that probably explains why they have bounced back so quickly after a disappointing season-opening home stand.


This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

More from Beltway Sports Report
 
blog comments powered by Disqus
John Heibel

 

Born in Southern Maryland, 34 years old, John Heibel grew up a Washington DC  sports fan, playing pretty much all sports. Heibel served in the US Coast Guard for 7 years and has two bachelors degrees.
The writer currently lives in Kensington, MD covering all DC Sports for Communities.

Contact John Heibel

Error

Please enable pop-ups to use this feature, don't worry you can always turn them off later.

Question of the Day
Featured
Photo Galleries
Popular Threads
Powered by Disqus