There are however, 10 things that have been observed by all of us, as well as a few things that I had to dig around for, which could stand to be improved.
Don't worry, most of these things aren't massive issues; we're in the top half of all playoff teams in most statistical categories. This list is just a guideline of some fine-tuning needs so Ovi and the boys can bring home Lord Stanley's cup home to the nation's Capital.
While they aren’t the worst in the postseason at face-offs, an area the Caps can certainly improve is at center ice. San Jose and Nashville are owning the face-off circle, and if we're in it for the long haul, the centers need to do slightly better at winning the draw. No real suggestions as to how they need to improve.
Let’s leave it up to Boudreau.
Neither team has scored in the first period during this first round matchup, but during the regular they did very well when scoring first and scoring in the opening period. This can probably be excused by the impeccable level of intensity Washington and New York have displayed in the first period.
If Washington can find a way to get a step up on their opponents early, then it will help them tremendously.
This is a touchy inclusion that definitely needs to be made and is arguably the most needed improvement. I was surprised to find out that Washington and New York have the two lowest penalty minutes per game so far. So far, Washington has 18 minor penalties resulting in 38 penalties minutes.
Even though the Caps aren’t picking up penalties that often, they are in being penalized at the worst possible moments. If there is a way to improve their judgment of when a penalty is acceptable, then they must do that.
Either way, no penalty is a good penalty.
There isn’t really a statistical foundation for this needed improvement, but over the last four games, it seems like every time we get an odd man advantage going down ice, we can never capitalize quite like New York does.
Not to say that they are extremely good at it, but the Rangers seem like they always know how to handle that situation. The Capitals seem to rely on the “dump-and-chase” more often than not, which works “not more than often,” per se.
Perhaps it’s just the Rangers press, Caps frustration and/or fatigue, but the Capitals’ clearing efforts have been pretty shoddy. Even when they’ve tried to ice it into the Rangers zone, there have been multiple times when they’ve done a terrible job of doing so.
Perhaps there’s too much of a rush to produce offense, but they need to slow down and reverse the puck if they need to. Improvement is definitely needed.
This area of need goes hand in hand with their lack of clearing success. The Capitals have committed more turnovers than any other postseason team, with 46 in four games. That’s terrible. To compare, I’ll throw it out there that Montreal has only committed 13 turnovers through three games. Pretty amazing.
It’s simple—we need to be smarter with the rock.
While we have twice as many steals (20) as Boston (10), that isn’t much to be proud of. Vancouver has almost twice as many as we do, with 38 takeaways through four games. This one is also pretty simple.
We need to be more aggressive in other areas than hitting (I’ll give it to the Caps, we have done a pretty awesome job of hitting over the last two games.).
This one is simple. Just refresh your memory by either revisiting or remembering the missed opportunities that were presented to Ovi and Backy. Now I’ll give them a break because Henrik Lundqvist is an outstanding goaltender, but c’mon, they have to convert on one of those.
Especially Ovi, who hit Henrik right in the glove and didn’t make a single fake or deke. There have also been several cross net chances that have been wide open that have been missed, mainly with Brooks Laich in Game 4.
This isn’t a new issue by any means, and the Caps really brought their power play to life near the end of the regular season, but the Rangers penalty killers have done fairly well against such explosive lines. They currently stand eighth out of the remaining 15 teams in the playoffs, with a 16.7 percent rate of success.
We saw on Wednesday that the Caps can collapse under a little pressure by their opponent, after they surrendered two second period goals within seven seconds of each other. Luckily for Washington’s momentum, they were able to pull off an incredible four-goal run to beat the Rangers in the second overtime.
All the power to the boys for pulling it off, but please, don’t put yourselves in that position. It isn’t fun for anyone.