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Capitals Postgame

Capitals Postgame: Wilson’s Impact; Is Offensive Mentality Working?



Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson, center, celebrates his goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets with left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) and defenseman Rasmus Sandin (38) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)

WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals are back in the win column following Saturday’s win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, with many takeaways being drawn from the team’s performance.

Early Lead Pushes Capitals Past Blue Jackets, 2-1

Tom Wilson: More Than A Fighter

Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate the impact of Tom Wilson.

He’s not an elite scorer, more known for his reputation as an aggressive player. It’s often more likely that he gets involved in a scuffle instead of him finding the back of the net, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make an impact in the Capitals’ offensive zone.

Wilson’s first period goal drew the attention. Not only did it allow the Capitals to secure the first lead of the game, the goal — Wilson’s third in four games — halted the team’s scoring trend, dating back to Thursday’s shutout loss to the Islanders.

It was a redemption of sorts after Wilson failed to convert on a penalty shot earlier in the period. But even then, in that struggle was a peek into something more.

Moments before the penalty shot, Wilson baited Columbus defenseman into a hooking penalty as he broke toward the net. It was the eighth time this season that Wilson drew an opposing penalty, leading the team.

The Capitals haven’t exactly made the most of their power play chances this season, no matter how few come their way. But Wilson’s approach is helping them not have the worst power play unit in the league, and that should count for something.

Pushing Pace And Good Looks: Does It Work?

Since Spencer Carbery became the Capitals’ bench boss, he’s seemingly prioritized two traits offensively.

The first lies in pushing the pace. He wants guys moving fast, with or without the puck, and applying pressure in the offensive zone.

The second? Quality of shots, not quantity of shots. It’s why you often see the Capitals tallying one pass after another, eyeing a high-chance scoring opportunity.

Through 10 games, I’m not entirely positive that Carbery’s two mantras can live in harmony.

Sure, the Capitals eked out a one-goal win against Columbus, so clearly something went right for them offensively. 

But on Saturday — much like other games this season — many of the team’s passes were lackluster. And with the emphasis on finding good scoring chances, there are also more chances for something to go wrong — a pass jumbled, a pass intercepted or a pass sent behind the blue line.

The Capitals entered the day with a mere 28 power play opportunities — 6th fewest in the league — and three power play goals — tied for 2nd fewest in the league. There’s only so much that can be done in two minutes.

Defense Stays Afloat Sans TvR

Trevor van Riemsdyk left Saturday’s game in the first period after his right leg awkwardly went into the boards.

While his presence was probably missed, the Capitals effortlessly transitioned to playing a man down defensively. Plus, aided by the play of Charlie Lindgren, the unit only surrendered one goal — allowing the Capitals to emerge with the win.

Lindgren, in his first game back from injury, made 35 saves on 36 shots.

van Riemsdyk will be reevaluated in the coming days, Carbery said postgame.

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.