Facing Pittsburgh: Familiar Intensity, Different Outcome

It felt like a game against Pittsburgh—except for the ending.

The Capitals brought whatever their A game is right now to the ice Thursday against the Pens, but despite holding both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin pointless, the Capitals finished the game one goal too short.

Journalists buzzed before the game how the Capitals hadn’t lost to the Pens  under Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma in regulation during the regular season.   His team’s 2-1 victory changed that Thursday.

It goes to show the coaching transition in Washington isn’t going to be the fairy-tale beginning and middle that the last one was. This regime is starting with a grounding dose of reality. But the Caps are sadder and wiser this time around, and they seem to be comfortable figuring out a new way of doing things.

“I think that’s the best jump we’ve had in awhile,” Dennis Wideman said of Thursday’s game. “We still had some confusion …  some breakdowns in our own zone. We gave them quite a few shots. We’d like to shore that up a little bit. But still, we gotta create more. Offensively, we didn’t get enough shots again.” The Capitals finished with only 17 shots compared to Pittsburgh’s 35.

“The system is a little more simple,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “We’re trying to find a way to play good hockey. That’s what he’s trying to teach us.”

NHL.com’s Dan Rosen asked a great question of Backstrom, wondering if the hardest part of learning a new system is making the transition from defense to offense work (something the Caps are struggling with, as they can’t seem to get out of their own zone or follow the puck into the offensive zone when they do clear it). Backstrom agreed with Rosen’s assessment.

He also gave a resounding ‘yes’ when Rosen asked if Caps had made progress from Tuesday’s game against the Blues, which they also lost 2-1. Backstrom said he felt the Caps played tighter. Perhaps most importantly, however, was just the fact he felt progress.

Karl Alzner said the Capitals aren’t feeling the loss of confidence on the bench now when they fall behind.

“Our confidence is still up there, is still high – we didn’t get too down [when they scored],” Alzner said. “The wins are going to come eventually. We know we’ve got a good team.”

And, despite the Capitals’ awful power play performance—where the first power play unit had no one crashing the net for any significant length of time—the game was by far one of the most energized this season. Journalists kept talking and tweeting about the intensity of the game, and how if only every hockey game were played like Thursday’s rivalry.

They’ll have to wait till January, however, to relive the experience. See you in the new year, Pittsburgh.

This entry was posted in Karl Alzner, Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Facing Pittsburgh: Familiar Intensity, Different Outcome

  1. DOC says:

    Already 2 consecutive Defeats under Hunters Belt!!! Maybe this WAS A BIG MISTAKE.

    Why the change in the Middle of the Season???.This might of been the Biggest Mistake giving Boudreau the Boot.Let him finnish the Season he would of had his team outshoot the Pens last night instead the Pens outplayed the Caps!!!

    Well The Caps are falling apart at the seams,Thus looking for a Cure try replacing The C on Backstroms Jersey and have a Leader involved.Has anyone noticed that Ovechkin trails the bottom of Scoring with Jagar.

  2. Jason N says:

    As the Caps start this new apparent 1-2-2 trap system (which I’m in favor of as we’ve seen how the last one faired in the post season), I’m curious about OFB’s (and specificially Pucksandbooks) analsys. I recall a posting back in late January 2011 when discussing the trap and the topic “Thoroughbreds Being Asked To Be Clydesdales”. I do think they will eventually thrive in the system and produce plenty of goals. Will it be the exiciting hockey that we’ve seen from Oct – April over the past 4 years? Probably not. But I will trade that for a warm walk to a game at the Verizon Center in early June in a heartbeat.

  3. EnzoBigBlue says:

    Time to panic? New coach same effort! I am not fooled by the close games under Hunter and drinking the Kool-aid that the caps are getting better. We had to change coaches and I like Hunter, I am just now looking at our roster and prospects adn scratching my head. Brower and Hammer have been busts. Our best defenseman this year we barely resigned (Alzner) I am looking at the 2011 capitals and believe that we are in trouble. Lazy third periods with negative shots on goals. Look at our 3rd periods this year and pull up whether we are positive or negative in shots and on the scoreboard. We are getting outshot badly in games where we are behind and like last night almost no offense when we are behind. We were one goal behind and could not muster more than 2 shots. If I hear luck one more time I am going to punch someone in the nose. Make your own luck, create the havoc that creates luck. Crash the net, follow your shots, grab your sacks, watch Rocky, Rudy or Vision Quest or whatever movie it takes but start willing yourself to victory vs. quiting when the other team goes up a goal. You are right Ted, Dale has his hands full.

  4. Martin says:

    @ENZOBIGBLUE +1, ditto, heartfelt & to the point.

  5. HBH WC says:

    Ovie had 1 SOG and 10 hits. Is that what he gets paid for now?

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