Tuesday Preview: The Return of the Kings

Posted on March 24, 2014 by Adam Stringham

Backstrom, Green and Ovechkin Celebrate After Lighting The Lamp

Photo Credit: Washington Capitals

The games were not pretty, the outcomes were not decisive, but despite it all the Washington Capitals emerged from the treacherous California swing with 5 of 6 standings points. No other Eastern Conference team has accomplished that feat this year.

Since the consecutive losses to Pittsburgh, the Capitals have taken 9 of a possible 10 points and are now within 1 point of a wild card spot. That being said, the Capitals' schedule is still one of the most difficult in the NHL with both the Kings and Bruins on tap for this week. Japers' Rink has been taking a larger look at the playoff hunt for months.

Capitals Points vs. 92-point Pace (10 Games Remaining)

Photo Credit: Japers' Rink

92 points is usually enough to make the playoffs but the Capitals will likely need more due to their low number of regulation and overtime wins (ROW). No matter the exact number of points that will be needed it is clear that there is still work to be done.

The Matchup:

LA Kings (40-25-6) @ WSH Capitals (34-27-11)

The Los Angeles Kings make their first appearance in Washington D.C since their Stanley Cup victory visit to the White House (3/26/13). With a little help and a victory, the Capitals could find themselves in a playoff spot by the end of the night.  When the teams met last week it was the Kings who took home the bonus point in the shootout, but Washington will be looking for a big win at home.

Two Things to look for:

1. Puck Possession Mismatch

  • LAK:  1st in CF% (56.7) and FF% (55.8)
  • WSH: 22nd in CF% (48.6) and 27th in FF% (47.9)

The Kings are a consistently dominant puck possession team, regardless of their opponent.

Photo Credit: Extra Skater

 The Capitals continue to be enigmatic in terms of driving the play, but they did well enough to win during their west coast trip.

Photo Credit: Extra Skater

 The Capitals were slightly outclassed when these two teams met last week. After a strong first period the Caps let the Kings control the pace of play, but thanks to some late game heroics a vital point was secured. In order to capture two points on Tuesday I would expect the Capitals to have to control the puck more (or at least for more segments of the game) than they did last Thursday. 

Photo Credit: Extra Skater

 According to Extra Skater the Capitals had a 14.5% chance of victory prior to Joel Ward’s miraculous goal to tie the game in the third. 

2. All eyes on Ovechkin

It’s fantastic that the Capitals were able to succeed with only 1 PPG from their captain last week, but they need more from Ovie at even strength. Playing with Jay Beagle greatly changes the dynamic of Ovechkin's line but the team will still need him to score down the stretch. I would not say that Ovie has looked disinterested lately but the unbridled enthusiasm we saw from him at the start of the season appears to have faded. 

 

Ovechkin did not have a strong showing against the Kings last week (CF% rel -3%, FF% rel -6.4%).  Part of that was due to his opponents, Ovechkin was matched up primarily with Richards’ line and the Regehr/Voynov pairing. If Oates wants to get Ovie going at even strength he should take full advantage of the last change to prevent that matchup.  Although I guess if Oates was really concerned about getting Ovechkin going he might not have put him on a line with Jay Beagle (no offense Jay). 

Bonus Thought: The Capitals have a pretty good record since that Kuznetsov guy came over…just saying. 

Special Thanks to Andy Hom for his help.

Follow me on twitter @Stringhama and @talkthered

 

Posted in: Washington Capitals
next up:

Oates Style, Holtby's Demise

March 24, 2014

Why would Adam Oates prophetically name Holtby his No. 1 goalie and then not start him?

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