How the Capitals Can Re-Ignite Their Power Play

Posted May 18, 2018

Ovechkin practices shooting from the left circle. (Caps Outsider)

The Washington Capitals’ power play, arguably the reason why the Caps have made it this far, has been figured out. If the Caps want to get back in this series, they need to fix it on the plane to Tampa Bay.

Everybody in the hockey world knows the Caps’ game plan is to get the puck to Alex  Ovechkin and have him one time it from the let circle. It seems like Tampa has done the impossible over the last two games and have found a way to stop it. Now, it’s on Barry Trotz and the Caps to adjust to Tampa’s adjustment.

One adjustment could be as simple as swapping Ovechkin and John Carlson. By doing this, odds are Tampa will shade Ovechkin at the point, thus opening up a cross-ice pass from Nicklas Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov to Carlson. As Tampa has shown, those are the hardest shots to stop. Not to mention, as shown the chart above from, Tampa allows more shots from the point than they do from the circle.

In addition, it seems like the Caps aren’t using T.J. Oshie that much in the “diamond” spot. Instead, the Caps should break from their 1-3-1 setup, and become more of a 2-2-1, with Tom Wilson parked in front of the net. Wilson can provide screens for the Caps as they barrage the net.

One last adjustment is to take Oshie off the top power play unit and put in Jakub Vrana. One major difference between Oshie and Vrana is that Vrana is a lefty. If Vrana is in the “diamond” position, then he is in a prime position for a one-timer when the puck is in Ovechkin’s office, or when chasing down a rebound. With Vrana’s speed, he has demonstrated that he can easily take the puck into the zone.

While the Cpas don’t have to enact all of these changes, or any of them for that matter, they need to change something. The power play has been what has carried this team to this point, and one adjustment can make it the threat it was just one week ago.