All the talk in the media lounge before tonight’s game is about the Caps’ new power play look, one that features five forwards as first reported this morning by The Washington Times‘ Corey Masisak.
Some are embracing this change while others are expressing reservation over the format that features forwards Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin on the points with Viktor Kozlov, Michael Nylander and Chris Clark up front.
The Capitals are 4-for-39 on the power play this season for an anemic success rate of just 10.3%. You’ve got to go back to last Feb. 27 for the last game in which Washington authored multiple power play tallies in the same game. Since that date, the Caps have unofficially converted 14 of 117 power play chances, a success rate of 12%. More to the point, they’ve fashioned an underwhelming 8-16-3 record during that stretch.
So it’s easy to see the level of frustration that has set in by this point. The Carolina Hurricanes employ five forwards (Jeff Hamilton, Matt Cullen, Ray Whitney, Corey Stillman and Rod Brind’Amour) on their power play setup, to good effect. The Canes are currently tied for the NHL lead with 14 power play goals, and their 23.7% extra-man success rate is third in the NHL.
The Caps obviously would like to close out the homestand with a win, especially since they must play six of their next seven and eight of their next 10 games on the road. Some of those visits are to arenas where the Caps have not had much success lately. Washington begins a three-game road trip in St. Louis tomorrow night. Washington’s last win over the Blues in St. Louis was 11 years ago tonight, a 6-4 triumph on Oct. 26, 1996. Jason Allison scored twice and Dale Hunter supplied the game-winner in that one.
The only two NHL arenas in which the Caps have a longer drought are Edmonton (Feb. 7, 1996) and San Jose (Oct. 30, 1993). The Caps have won in Minnesota, but never in the Wild’s Xcel Center home.