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Capitals Doomed By Their Own Offensive Pressure

Eric LaForgeCorrespondent INovember 23, 2009

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 21:  Nikolai Kulemin #41 of the Toronto Maple Leafs tries to block the shot of Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals during game action November 21, 2009 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

Offense is something that the Washington Capitals should be very proud of. They have a very potent offense that can hit you from a bunch of different directions. However, when they meet a goalie that is up to the task, they have a hard time winning games.

That’s why Washington’s biggest strength, can also become its biggest weakness. We saw this over the weekend when the Caps played Toronto.

The Toronto game was pretty interesting. They met a goalie who was up to the task of playing them, and were limited in how many goals they scored. The goal that Toronto scored was because of too much offensive pressure. They were able to carry the puck out of their defensive zone and create a 4-on-2.

Even at the end of the play, you can still see two of the Caps players trailing extremely far behind. These two players were the players that were forechecking when Toronto started leaving the zone.

If you take a look at the play (sorry I don’t have a picture), you can see one Caps player in front of the net just above the crease and the other two in the corner. They were standing their on the forecheck to create a chance in front of the net. Toronto got the puck in the middle of the zone and was able to create a 4-on-2 the other direction.

A third Washington player was able to backcheck and get to the play, but he was not in the play long enough to make a big difference.

I see what the Caps were doing though. They were trying to get the puck in the corner. The Maple Leafs only had one guy in the corner, the Caps had two and another in front of the net. If the Caps had been able to get the puck in the corner, they would have been able to create a mismatch down low and get a pretty good scoring opportunity. They have been doing plays like that the entire season.

However, the biggest weakness in an aggressive forecheck is that your forechecking players can end up trapped. That’s exactly what happened on the goal and that’s how Toronto tied the game.

If the Caps had been forechecking a little less aggressively, maybe having one guy in the corner instead of two, they would have had an easier time getting back and stopping the play. This game could have been a 1-0 game.

The other thing, is that Toronto doesn’t have a bad offense. They’re in last place because they play terrible defense, but their offense is solid. The Caps didn’t need to try to break the Toronto defense. They could have played a defensively minded game and still been able to score goals. The just needed more shots from the point and more redirections in front of the net.

However, I can’t say that I blame the Caps for using an aggressive forecheck. It is what they have been doing the entire season and it’s how they have scored the majority of their goals. However, it doomed them on Saturday night.

Originally posted at tipsforhockey.com

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