It took about sixty games last season until the Washington Capitals were so fed up that they had a defensive game that they teamed up to clarify their structure and philosophy. Progress was made through the playoffs, where the capitals played with more detail and dedication on each round, and that stifling, rigorous check-style eventually brought the series's first Stanley Cup title.
And while Washington hoped that this might affect the start of this season, the defensive game of the Capitals, whose strength was only five months ago, was a weakness in the first month. The team has won two games in a row and allowed 3.82 goals per game, which is considered the third most of the league. Washington won five of its eleven games with an average of 3.82 goals and thus the second place in the NHL.
"Obviously it's good that we score goals, but at the same time we have to find ways to make a profit and maybe play better defensively," said Center Nicklas Backstrom.
After only ten games in October with a sweeping schedule that has had three breaks of at least three days between games, the Capitals will have a packed November with 15 games. Their five-game home leg, which opens against Dallas on Saturday night, provides an opportunity to improve the table with Thanksgiving, which is historically a good indication of the playoff image. For Washington, it is paramount to snap out of a style of play that involves high odds with the opposition.
"Offensive teams with strong forces come in, and if you do not want to make the puck against them, there will be another four, five or six goals," said coach Todd Reirden. "And that's not hockey to win."
While Washington's team defense has certainly improved on the majority of last season, it could certainly be sharper at this point after it had retained its seven best defenders and the vast majority of strikers. Reirden said the defensive structure is "very similar and similar" to the Capitol playoffs, but after eleven games in the regular season, players do not block as many punches and lose more battles on the boards and give up position in front of the net ,
"That's the five-strong commitment you need and was the premise for the structural change we made last year," said Reirden. "This structural change is now in force, and now we need to improve it individually and as a group, and that requires. , , Pay the price to get into the line of fire, or do a better job of boxing out players at the net front and collecting sticks. There teams can perceive some of their potential dangers. a lot of it comes from pucks that reach our first layer out of the defensive zone. It makes things more complicated and then turns into battles closer to the net. And at this point we lose some of those battles. "
It's also about the fact that the opponents of Capitals want to hold their own against the defending champion in the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Washington's players are still recovering from a deep playoff run that led to a shortened summer.
"If you look at our season and how long it has been going, look at the teams that have also won – Pittsburgh, for example, I think they've been through some of the same things we're going through right now," he said He said Brett Connolly. "There is a belief in our group that we know is better than what we show, and it was the same last year at the beginning of the year. So we are confident that we can somehow fix that and play at our level. We are just a step behind in many areas and little details, that determination in our game, we do not have it now for a full 60 minutes. "
With the capitals ahead of the Canadiens in the last three minutes on Thursday, with Montreal losing control, Reirden had intended to train the team on Friday. Then, however, there was a delay in customs and when the Capitals arrived in Washington, Reirden opted for an optional afternoon skate after two in the morning and pulled out a video for the team to see what it looks like when it got to it holds defensive structure, unlike some of the error-prone hockey the Capitals have flashed lately.
"They go home for the summer and you have two months off, and you have a bit of those habits," Connolly said. "I think we just need to know that we did not do our best. We know that in our team and as individuals small details are missing. We just have to bring it back here and find the good mood, but we know we can do it. It's only a matter of time."
More about the capitals and the NHL:
Andre Burakovsky hopes that a new mental approach can breathe life into his game
The constancy of Jakub Vrana and the confidence of the capital hope for an outbreak season
Alex Chiasson, former Capitals striker, explains his friendship with Alex Ovechkin