Why the Washington Capitals are Off to a Rocky Start this Season

After going down to a 0-2 record with losses to the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals have not impressed to start the season.

It was clear that the Capitals were going to be declining over the years as they aged, however it was not never a thought that it would be this difficult to watch. Not only was the performance not up to expectations, but the Ovechkin race to catch Gretzky still has not started as Ovechkin has not found the back of the net yet this season.

(Image Credit: NHL.com)

Looking at a competitive metropolitan division, and an even more competitive east, this might not be the season that Capitals fans were looking for, but here are several issues we have identified, and if fixed, could be instrumental to changing the outlook of the Capitals season.

It is still early in the season, so no panic button needs to be hit yet, but its best to learn from what we know after two games so far.

Poor Powerplay

The Capitals powerplay has reached it’s mid-season form early in the season, and that’s not a good thing to say. Currently the powerplay is sitting at 0% (0/4 against Boston and 0/5 against Toronto). To simply put it, it has not been good enough.

(Image Credit: NBC Sports)

Some changes to the powerplay due to injury is that Strome is now playing on the bumper as Kuznetsov slots on the wall due to a missing Backstrom. Additionally Oshie is now sitting in the high slot, which makes room for Strome to move from the bumper to screen the goalie if needed.

Clearly this has not been successful and needs to be changed given the lack of playoff goals and the team’s dependence on the powerplay.

If Blaine Forsythe wants to continue with having a screen, maybe moving Mantha to the bumper would be the smarter decision, given his size and grit, meanwhile Strome’s best asset being his shooting can be saved for PP2.

Additionally having Oshie play in the low slot was a major asset for the Capitals given his ability to redirect the puck. Having him in the high slot makes for prettier plays, but being in the low slot gives him more opportunities.

Trust the Youth (Connor McMichael)

Another area where the Capitals can make real improvement would be to trust McMichael and to give him the opportunity to play.

Connor McMichael is the Capital’s best young talent, and after losing several young players this off season like Vanacek, Samsonov, Leason, and Jonsson-Fjällby, it is clear that the team is not striving to develop the youth.

This is a major issue as the Capitals are one of the oldest teams in the league, and have a closing window as a result.

(Image Credit: Stars and Sticks)

Now is the time to be transitioning the younger players into the roster, as they invite speed and creativity, which are things that this roster clearly lacks.

McMichael has shown that he can compete at the NHL level, and its time to give him the opportunity. By giving him ice time now, he can develop into the solid top six player that his talent projects.

Having known quantities perform at a decent level is not going to be what pushes this team over the hump for another cup run, or maybe even a playoff spot in this tough conference. Taking a chance on the youth could spark change and lead to a sustained transition as the old guard transitions out.

(Image Credit: NHL.com)

In conclusion, the Capitals have weaknesses that clearly hold them back, and these are two areas where the team can improve upon for potentially greater success.

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