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The Capitals lost to the Philadelphia Flyers last night in overtime, as you all probably know, but what's most striking to me is not the result, per se. It's that the Capitals once again just couldn't score. Last night was the 17th time in the last 18 games that the Capitals failed to register more than three goals in a game. This season, they've only scored four or more goals 14 times, and nine of those came in the first 20 games. Last year at this point, the Capitals did it 27 times.
At this point, it's impossible to deny that the Capitals have decided to consciously to ditch the high scoring and focus more on defensive-minded, gritty hockey. Now that we've had enough of a sample seeing this transition, I think it's safe to ask whether that was the right call.
Look, I get that the Capitals could have used more defense last season, and I get that they needed a little more toughness in front of the net. At the same time, though, a team needs to accept their identity and play to their strengths. The Capitals don't appear to be doing that right now, and are instead trying to plug square pegs into round holes because they think that'll make them a more formidable club for the playoffs. Maybe this makes the team better going forward, but I'm having a lot of trouble seeing any sort of progression.
The alternative strategy for the team would have been to maintain its quick-striking, offensive-minded style and tinker around the edges to try to fine-tune it. Sure, the previous iterations of that strategy fell short in the playoffs, but that was still a threatening team. The foundation was there.
But instead of tinkering with their essence, the Capitals have decided to change their identity. Judging from what we've seen so far this season, that may have been too much of an overreaction to a couple playoff series losses.
Today's must-reads from around the SB Nation network:
- Japers Rink sees a bit of a silver lining in the Caps' loss.
- SBNation.com was live at the game. Here's a period-by-period report.
- Here's a recap from the Flyers' perspective over at Broad Street Hockey.
- Casual Hoya recaps Georgetown's win and how the state of New Jersey allowed Austin Freeman to get his shot back.
- Federal Baseball discusses Jordan Zimmermann, the starting pitcher that may hold the key to the Nationals' 2011 plans.
- Hogs Haven suggests that an NFL lockout is imminent, based on comments made on a conference call with the NFL Players Association.
- Black and Red United has three thoughts on Perry Kitchen, D.C. United's newest member.