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Data Shows Capitals Have Suffered The Most ‘Collapses’ In 2021-22. Here’s How That Can Change

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The 2021-22 campaign has been a roller coaster for the Washington Capitals, who have been dealing with a myriad of injuries and bouts with COVID-19. At the same time, the team has also fallen victim to “collapses.”

Per the Faceoff Circle’s Jeff Veillette, the Capitals have experienced 13 collapses this season, the most among any NHL team. Collapses, as defined by Veillette, consist of giving up multi-goal leads or third-period leads of at least one goal.

Washington currently ranks fourth in the Metropolitan Division and sits in the first Wild Card spot in the East with a 24-12-9 record (57 points). The Capitals had a rough go of it in the month of January, going 4-6-2, and not only struggled with “chasing the lead,” but also gave up some late goals and leads. One game was the Bruins tilt on Jan. 10, where despite a 2-0 lead in the first, the team surrendered six unanswered goals and fell 7-3.

Not only were there troubles with loose defense and lazy play in the defensive zone, but the Capitals also struggled to score goals and produce at both even strength and on the power play. They had the fourth-lowest goals-for per 60 minutes (2.38) in the league, and the power play was operating at 15.2 percent, which ranks 29th.

“I feel like it’s mostly puck luck,” Lars Eller had said of the team’s scoring woes in January. “I think we’re generating 10-plus good scoring chance every game, and right now, it feels like they’re just not going in. For whatever reason, we have to work really hard for our goals right now. It’s not coming easy for us.”

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The Dallas game proved to be a potential turning point, as Washington chased former netminder Braden Holtby from the crease with five goals through the first 40 minutes of play.

“I thought we were a little bit better at managing the puck through the neutral zone,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of what clicked in Texas. “Once we got possession, I thought we were able to establish a little bit of an identity in there. It’s tough when you’re in your zone playing defense and just kind of get ground down a little bit. It was good to make the right decisions to get it there and then to keep it there.”

Another solution could lie with Vitek Vanecek, who has been outstanding between the pipes of late. Over his last six games, Vanecek has posted a .941 save percentage, 1.67 GAA and two shutouts. With him on the top of his game — and Nick Jensen closing in on a return — the Capitals may be able to avoid some collapses going forward. This will prove vital as they look to start off February on the right foot and prepare for the playoff push.

Washington faces the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday before hosting the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

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