Caps in the Box

Posted January 20, 2014

Forget a trade, Martin Erat was seeking refuge in the penalty box. (Caps Outsider)

Caps’ fans are discouraged, and rightly so. After watching a mediocre effort laced with penalties that resulted in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers Sunday night, fans are frustrated and they’re not the only ones.

Coach Adam Oates was disheartened by the outcome of the game. “We took three penalties in the offensive zone and that can’t happen. We shot ourselves in the foot.”

The Caps’ seem to have perfected the art of ‘beating themselves’ and, inevitably, digging themselves into a deep hole at least once each season.

“We are in a slump right now, that’s for sure, “said Caps’ center Nick Backstrom. “We need to find a way to get through it. It’s tough right now.”

One major change the Caps should make is to stay out of the penalty box. Games are not won with a big chunk of the team being told by the refs to take a seat. Here is the breakdown from Sunday night:

  • Martin Erat: hooking
  • Martin Erat: interference
  • Martin Erat: slashing (yes, count ‘em 3!)
  • Karl Alzner: hooking
  • Tom Wilson: roughing (surprise, surprise –96 penalty min. so far this season)
  • John Erskine: roughing

The Caps had allowed just one 5-on-3 goal in the first 40 games this season. They’ve played 9 games in January and have allowed three 5-on-3 goals. Unless they are serving drinks and hor’derves in the penalty box, no one should want to be there! In the past week, we have seen 2 goals waved off due to senseless penalties. It’s just sloppy hockey.

If the Caps can stay out of the penalty box, generate more offense and stick with one goalie, then they will get back on track. Otherwise, the hole just gets deeper and deeper, and it may become too hard to climb out.