Sitting in the cheap seats over the weekend at the Verizon Center, the main gripe from fans of the Washington Capitals was that their power play -- absolutely loaded with talent on paper -- was playing too "cute" with the puck to be effective.
It's something Coach Bruce Boudreau reaffirmed after last night's 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames, in which the Capitals went 0-for-5 with the man-advantage: "We're trying to be so damn cute all the time. You don't get goals like that. When you can't score on the power play in this league, you're going to be in trouble."
Coming up empty on five power-play chances is frustrating; failing to convert a nine-minute power play in the first period is a whiskey-please-and-keep-them-coming-bartender kind of frustrating. Because the Caps had nine minutes with the man advantage, courtesy of this play by the Flames' Rene Bourque:
Daymond Langkow cruised into the neutral zone and was absolutely creamed by Caps rearguard Tyler Sloan - a 27-year-old Calgary native playing just the third shift of his NHL career. The hit appeared clean, but that didn't stop Bourque from rushing in for retribution.
He didn't get much revenge, but what he did get was 17 minutes in penalties - unsportsmanlike conduct minor, instigating minor, fighting major, 10-minute misconduct. It boiled down into a rarely seen nine-minute power play for Washington. But in that considerable span, which began at 7:33, each team got three shots. No goals.
As the Capitals' official message boards put it: Worst. Nine. Minute. Power. Play. EVER!
The power play should be an easy fix: Don't over-think things, get some traffic in front of the goalie and let the stellar offensive talent shine. Because right now, this team is playing way too fancy-pants with the man advantage. And that's really not Army Strong.