Peter Laviolette doesn't think Capitals offense is there yet despite fast start

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kevin Brown
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Laviolette doesn't think Caps 'are there yet' despite fast start originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Despite constant lineup challenges, the Capitals sport the NHL's top record and are off to a blistering start under new head coach Peter Laviolette. 

After nine games, Washington is unbeaten in regulation with six wins and three losses, two of them coming in shootouts. Without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov, and Ilya Samsonov on the NHL protocol-related absence list, plus injuries to Tom Wilson, Justin Schultz, and Lars Eller, make the start to the campaign even more impressive. 

Before Ovechkin returned on Saturday night to score the game-winning overtime goal against the Bruins, the Caps offense was forced to rely on other options. They did so admirably, as they sit fifth in the league in goals scored (34) with the four teams above them having played at least one more game. 

Still, Washington has taken their chances when they get them. Players like Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson, and John Carlson have been lethal in front of the net for the Capitals offense which ranks 27 out of 31 NHL teams in shots per game. 

Download and subscribe to the Capitals Talk Podcast

Laviolette said he wasn't worried yet about getting outshot against teams like the Bruins, who got 20 more attempts (43-23) than the Capitals in Saturday's win. Now with Ovechkin and now Orlov back, the first-year Capitals coach wants to see improvements. 

"I can tell you this, with regards to shot volume, with regards to puck retention, with regard to what I think we're capable of offensively, I don't think we're there yet," Laviolette told The Sports Junkies on Monday morning. "I think it's something we're going to have to continue to work on inside of our games."

While the shorthanded Caps have had to defend more than they'd normally like to, they rank middle-of-the-pack to start the season in goals against (tied-13th) so far in 2021.

"Defensively, when you play the Bruins they're one of the top shot volume teams in the league, so they fire from everywhere," Laviolette said. "The chances were a lot closer than the shots were just because they fire pucks. For me, defensively there's been some good things but there's also been a learning curve, I think, with how we're doing things so those numbers can improve as well."

RELATED: Capitals' energy and fun reminds Bruce Boudreau of the 'Rock the Red' era

With one of the shortest offseason since the 2004-05 lockout to implement his strategy on his new team, Laviolette has helped Washington to a better start than every team other than the Florida Panthers, who've played three fewer games.

"I do think it's a work in progress, and it's a work in progress that seems to get delayed a little bit just in regard to the personnel moving in and out of the lineup so much. You've got to remember we got two centermen that are on the first two lines that are out of the lineup," Laviolette said, who praised right winger T.J. Oshie for sliding over to play center and take draws. 

"But when we come back as a full squad and we continue to work on the game because there has been strides on some of the things that I want to see done, but it's not where it's going to be once we get everybody back and what the guys get really familiar with what we're doing," Laviolette said. 

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 6 PM for the start of coverage of the Washington Capitals' Monday night clash against the Boston Bruins.