The Washington Capitals (12-9-1) will face the Montreal Canadiens (11-9-2) on Friday night at the Verizon Center. The Caps are coming off a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins and will be looking to rebound. In order to do s, they must get more shots on goal and allow fewer shots from the Habs.
Washington has been out shot a startling 87-38 over two games, a result of the Caps allowing the opposition to dominate the neutral zone and Washington being too deep in defense. Granted, the first of those two games was an excellent 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues—a victory based on exceptional goaltending by Braden Holtby who made a career-high 46 saves.
Even with good netminding the Caps must pick up the offense again. The Penguins outshot the Caps 34-10 at even strength, which shows how much the Caps are lacking in puck possession—in any zone. Poor puck possession equals fewer shots on net and that results in more losses than wins.
In 19 of their 22 games, Washington has allowed 30 or more shots on goal, and they’ve been out shot 15 times during those 22 games. They’ve allowed 771 shots this season, which is the fifth most in the NHL, an average of 35 shots against per game. Unfortunately, those are not Stanley Cup winning statistics.
Given the shot stats, it’s clear that Holtby has been admirable between the pipes. However, a goalie who is peppered with shots over 60 minutes will occasionally let in a bad goal and Holtby did just that against the Penguins when a high shot from the blue line found its way into the top right of Holtby’s net for the Pens’ first tally.
“When you do get pucks thrown that often, you get goals like that first goal [against Pittsburgh] … When you [the Penguins] throw them enough at the net, sooner or later you’re gonna get luck on your side,” stated Holtby.
Tonight, against a Montreal team that thrashed an impressive Minnesota Wild outfit 6-2 in their last game, the Caps need to regroup, reload and come out shooting.