Capitals’ five-on-five offense sputters in Game 4 loss to Bruins

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Capitals’ five-on-five offense sputters in Game 4 loss to Bruins originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Capitals came into Game 4 needing a better effort from its lineup at five-on-five, where they’d scored just six goals through three games. 

After four games against the Bruins, that number still sits at six goals. 

In a 4-1 loss to the Bruins at TD Garden, the Capitals were never a serious threat to score at even strength, and that put them on the brink of a third-straight first round exit in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

“We just need five guys wanting to have the puck, support each other better,” center Lars Eller said. “I think when we're pretty spread out, it feels like it's one or maybe two guys attacking sometimes so we've just got to support each other a lot better than we are right now, attacking with five, defend with five, play faster. Everything. Every aspect of the game, we've got to be better.”

At five-on-five, of which took up 35 minutes and 26 seconds of Friday’s game, the Capitals had just 11 shots on net compared to the Bruins’ 29. The Capitals were out-attempted 41-32 and had one high-danger chance compared to the nine for the Bruins. And all night, it never felt the Capitals were close to breaking through onto the scoresheet.

“It’s not a lot of shots and it’s not good enough on our side,” center Nicklas Backstrom said. “Somehow, we have to create some more offensive chances. I think we’ve just got to move around more and make sure we just create those chances for ourselves. It’s not just going to happen. I just think that when we get a chance there, we have to create some more offensive zone looks. They’re blocking a lot of shots and you’ve got to make it harder for them to defend.”

The Capitals have scored six five-on-five goals this series, four of which have come from the fourth line (all from Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway). Although it’s true Tom Wilson has hit two posts in two games, with another from Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals haven’t gotten the offense they’ve needed, nor the one they had in the regular season. 

After four games, the only forwards with a Corsi-For (shot attempts) percentage of more than 50 are: Daniel Carr, Alex Ovechkin and Anthony Mantha. Daniel Sprong has a Corsi-For of 50 percent exactly. 

The high-danger chances are even worse, as the only players with at least a 50 percent or higher share are Carr and Mantha. 

“We will get together tomorrow to talk, look at things and see where we can be better,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Like I said, there was a lot of things that seemed like they were off tonight. The jump was off, the compete was off, our execution, 5-on-5 play needs to be better, the specialty teams need to be better so there is a lot of…it was an off night. It just wasn’t a good night.”

Perhaps there’s no better example of the Capitals’ struggles than Mantha, who has 12 shots through four games of the playoffs. Acquired by the Capitals at the trade deadline, his big body presence was designed to give the team a net-front presence that can create for others. And while he’s been one of the best forwards for the Capitals this series, the goals just haven’t been there even if the process has.

With a sputtering powerplay, the Capitals will need to start generating at five-on-five. But for whatever they’ve tried to throw at the Bruins, they have not been able to answer offensively as there’s been no space to breathe. 

“I thought we missed the net a lot too,” Lavioltte said. “I thought we had opportunities inside where we finally did get looks that we were looking for in the second and third period on the power play, and it seemed like we missed the net. Some of them got blocked. But we didn’t deliver as many strikes as we needed to on net. And so, I think there were attempts there, but those attempts have got to get through and have got to get on.”