WASHINGTON - A metallic clang has been the soundtrack to the Capitals' season so far.
Twice during Saturday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks at Capital One Arena, Washington shots hit the post and stayed out. Then, to complete the mockery, Lars Eller thought he'd put the Capitals up in the fifth round of the shootout only to learn the puck he thought was in instead hit the left post and caromed off the crossbar. No goal.
Few will feel sorry for Washington, which is 16-4-5 and still leads the NHL with 37 standings points. But it's at least a little annoying for a team whose offense has dried up some lately. The Capitals lead the NHL now with 30 shots off the post or crossbar,
"It's just been seeming to go like that lately," Eller said. "Couple of games ago we get an OT goal called back [in a 4-3 shootout loss to Arizona]. A lot of bars out in New York. I guess at some point it's got to turn. You're right there, but it just goes bar out instead of bar in right now."
Those 30 shots off the post or crossbar are only in regulation or overtime. Eller's bid doesn't even count toward that total. Put it in perspective: Dallas and Calgary are second in the NHL with 21 posts hit. The Capitals don't have much competition in that category right now. They did it another four times in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday.
On Saturday. Michael Sgarbossa hit the outside of the right post at 5:59 of the second period. Evgeny Kuznetsov deflected a shot off the crossbar while on the power play at 11:15 of the second. In all, Washington has hit the post with a shot 25 times and the crossbar another five.
"It does feel that way. Post and out," coach Todd Reirden said. "I'd like to see a post and in here. But that means we're getting to areas where we are beating the goaltender so it is coming from quality spots. Usually, if that's the case then in the way we break down the game, that's still a chance for us in that situation."
This isn't really normal. The Capitals hit the post or crossbar 61 times in 82 games last season, which tied for ninth overall. They are almost halfway to that total through 25 games. In 2017-18 that number was 58 and the NHL leader was Edmonton (67).
You'd think some of that luck would turn their way. Even with all the iron the Capitals still lead the NHL with 91 goals.
Vancouver, of all teams, knows what it's like to hear the ping of frustration. The Canucks led the NHL with 80 posts or crossbars in 2018-19. No other team had more than 69. That's the most by any team since the league started keeping track in the 2009-10 season. Sometimes it's just one of those years. Not much a team can do except keep firing.
"It just didn't go in for us," Capitals forward Jakub Vrana said. "It's been good that we've been creating them, but it just didn't go in. So hopefully we will work on our finish a little bit and it's gonna be better next game."
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