Caps Fall in Philly
Without the members of their regular power play unit the Capitals were unable to take advantage of some extra-man chances late in Wednesday night’s preseason contest with the Philadelphia Flyers. As a result, the Caps dropped a 2-1 decision to leave their preseason record at 2-2-1. The Flyers visit Verizon Center on Friday night and then Washington closes out its preseason slate on Sunday with a 5 p.m. game against the Ottawa Senators.
The game against the Flyers didn’t do much to help with the team’s pressing roster decisions, at least not to these eyes. The Caps limited the Flyers to just 20 shots on goal, and Brent Johnson turned in another solid effort between the pipes. Five of those Flyer shots came in the game’s first five minutes, when Washington had trouble getting on track in its own end. The Caps settled in nicely thereafter, but were unable to do much offensively. The Capitals traded deflection goals with the Flyers; Boyd Kane tipping a Braydon Coburn shot for Philly and Brian Sutherby deflecting a Steve Eminger shot for Washington.
As close games so often do, this one turned on one of the “little things.” Namely, a defensive zone draw. Veteran center Jim Dowd beat Washington’s Dave Steckel (the Caps’ top face-off man this preseason) cleanly, drawing the puck right to Ben Eager. Eager fired a quick shot past Johnson and that was all the scoring for the night.
Nothing in the way of game stats to peruse and pore over, and I’m not sure why. We were given old school (circa mid-90s) scoresheets between periods, so no ice time, face-off and other detailed stats were tracked in Philly tonight.
The penalty kill was once again terrific, and I’m getting more personal satisfaction from the improved defense and penalty killing than from the promise of a more potent offense. Holding the opposition to an average of fewer than three goals per game is a virtual must if you have serious playoff aspirations, which means the Caps will need to lop off nearly a half goal per game off last season’s total. So far, so good. Washington has surrendered only five goals in its last three games and 14 in five preseason games this year.
The penalty killing has been even better. By my unofficial count, the Caps have killed off 25 of the last 26 shorthanded situations they’ve faced. They’ve allowed three power play goals in five preseason games, and two of those came while the opposition had a two-man advantage.
Tomorrow is a day off, but I’ll have some quotes from Glen Hanlon about the difficulty of the final cuts.