Washington's Losing Streak Result of Struggling Defense

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Washington's Losing Streak Result of Struggling Defense
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Before Round Two of the 2009 NHL playoffs, I predicted the Capitals would steamroll the Penguins and their lack of defense.

Boy, was I wrong.

As a matter of fact, it was the other way around.

Washington's current three-game losing streak has been caused mainly by a defensive struggle.  That is to say, their defense has been flat out blowing it for the team.

Two of Pittsburgh's game-winning goals have been caused by deflections off Washington's own defensemen.  Both of these deflections occurred in overtime.  Game Three's game-winning-goal, a slap shot off the stick of Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, ricocheted off Shaone Morrisonn's left knee and went past a helpless Simeon Varlamov.  The clincher of Game Five bounced off a diving Tom Poti and into the net. 

A little more D on both of those and we might be talking about the Capitals' gameplan for the Eastern Conference Finals.

There's been a few times where Varlamov has made a great stop on an odd-man rush, the puck is left in the slot by the Caps defensemen, who seem to think that the play stops after Varlamov makes a save, and a Penguin will get off a wide-open shot.

There's been a few times where two, sometimes three Caps defensemen will leave the slot wide open to go after the guy with the puck in the corner.  A good pass and there's another wide-open shot.

Luckily for the Capitals, there's been two things keeping them in the playoffs: their offense, and rookie goaltender Simeon Varlamov.  Without those two, Washington wouldn't even be in the Second Round, and the Penguins would be playing the Carolina Hurricanes instead.

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