After watching the Caps play two straight games where every shot they took seemed to be blocked, I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I saw our guys do that consistently. Playing a hunch I went back and did a little research, and sure enough this is another area where the Caps may need some work. Sure, defense is better overall and the shots against have been reduced, but I uncovered some interesting numbers that reveal it may not be as pretty as we thought...
- In the last two games alone opponents have turned aside 55 shots...which further explains why the Caps have only 2 goals in the last two games.
- The Caps have never blocked more than 16 shots in a single game this season, and they hit that mark only once - in the home opener against Carolina, which I think we can safely say was one of their best if not the best game of the season.
- Through 13 games the Caps' opponents have "outblocked" them to the tune of 218 blocked shots for the other guys versus 142 Caps bruises.
- The Caps have more blocked shots than their opponent in only three games, but they were heavily outshot in two of those three. Versus the Rangers last month the Caps blocked 12 to New York's 11, but the Rags got 41 shots through compared to the Caps. Then there was the Sabres game, where the Caps turned away 12 shots but let 53 more get by them...and seven of those went in. Oops.
This is a team that seems to have lost that hard-working mentality that so defined them in the first two years after the lockout. Holding onto a lead is part of that. Coming from behind to win is another. And shot-blocking is yet another part.
I'm not sure what it is. Maybe they just think they're too talented now to do the little things that count through all 60 minutes (wrong, boys...sorry). Or maybe the consistent benching of guys like Bradley and Sutherby and the demotion of Clymer to the AHL has removed the guys from the lineup who, while maybe not offensively talented would give 110% every night in past years.
Maybe we should try and steal Brendan Witt back from the Islanders.
Whatever it is, you have to think that this is just one more area that speaks to the heart of a team...or lack thereof. Guys who are sacrificing their bodies are, to use a cliche from Miracle, worrying more about the logo on the front of the jersey than the name on the back. And maybe that's what's missing most of all.