I know, the Capitals again. It’s always the Capitals. I’m gonna have to re-name the post Systems Capitalist.

Today edition stars Troy Brouwer and Brooks Laich in a negative light, and Michael Del Zotto, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards in a positive one. Dan Girardi gets some love too.

Let’s take a look at how the Rangers turned a 3-on-3 into a 2-on-1 in video form, then break it down. I deal mostly with the re-group after the initial rush.

We’ll pick it up after the Rangers’ first rush – Del Zotto just took a relatively terrible shot for a great player (it was high and wide by multiple feet, with a guy going to the net no less), and Troy Brouwer, who’s come back to help out, ends up with the puck. It’s a 4-on-4, and the Caps are tired.

I’m guessing that’s the reason Brooks Laich fails to provide proper support for Brouwer. He should open up, get on the boards, and be an option for his teammate here. By the time Brouwer moves it, Laich is basically facing directly up-ice, with his head swiveled all the way around…which is a good way to get killed. Like I said, he’s tired.

Brouwer  has options though (he has the puck in the shot below). He can give it to Laich, go off-the-glass-and-out, or reverse it to Wideman or Schultz so they can set up behind the net and slow things down.

He misses Laich with the pass up the middle (assuming that it was a physical error, not mental here), and is damn lucky there wasn’t a Ranger there.

Girardi ends up with the puck in the neutral zone, which sets up the classic re-group you practice constantly throughout the season. The job of the Caps D is to hustle up to the blueline, pivot to the inside, and get good gap on the attacking forwards. The Caps forwards should identify there’s going to be a three man attacking rush and grab a guy (preferably the wide or high guy without the puck).

But Laich is tired, so…he’s outtie.

That’s no big deal – it’s still a prototypical 3-on-3 coming once puck gets passed up.

The D are a little slow to get up to the line, but the Rangers curl tight and aren’t coming too fast. Girardi does something that makes me so happy – he gets the puck up to his forwards without dilly-dallying (even though that’s Del Zotto, point is the same) to let them make plays, so they’re back on the attack.

So! Rangers are re-grouping, who’s got who, defenders? (This is the point in the video session where I get condescending and treat them like children).



“Troy, how is it possible you don’t see Gaborik there? Did you think our d-man needed help on a stationary player as far from the net in the zone as possible? Did you not recognize the situation? I honestly want to know what you were thinking. Seriously, go ahead.”

Still, Del Zotto is at a standstill and Wideman is in good position on him…but here’s where difference-makers become difference-makers. Del Zotto has A) the vision and patience to locate Gaborik, B) the skills to thread the puck through traffic to him and C) the stones to try that instead of just slipping it to Richards, who’s providing great support.

From there, it comes down to the smarmy way I’ve labelled the next screenshot, in a nutshell. The play is all but over.

I kid about Holtby by the way, I think he’s legit. It’s just fun to stretch the scene as much as possible.

Then ho-ly shit, watch this fake shot by Gaborik on that poor tender that’s been hung out to dry. That freezes 104% of goalies in the world.

That gets a gold star. He even takes a knee for crying out loud. The stick is flexing backwards he’s pulling it back in so quick.

Anyway, to Brouwer’s credit, he tries to get back to take Richards, but he was puck-staring and looping too much to stay in the play.

Here’s the finished product:

The bright blue below means the “A good thing happened for the home team” lights just got fired up.

Anytime you’re in an even-numbered situation and you’re heading to cover a covered player, it’s time to get your head on a swivel. There’s no point in helping those who don’t need help.

Comments (8)

  1. Kind of a vaguely curious how many of these on the Capitals you had before/after the coach change, but not curious enough to count.

  2. Is it possible Brouwer thought he was doing Laich a solid by not chipping the puck up to him along the boards with Girardi waiting to crush him? I mean, it was still a shitty clear, but i’m pondering what the hell he might have been thinking with that.

  3. Your analysis is always insightful, however I am baffled by your incessant bashing of Washington. Sure, the Caps are guilty of their share of defensive breakdowns, but one has to make a truly dedicated effort to be this unscrupulously biased.

    Your only analysis from the Boston series, strangely singled out the Caps, even though they went on to win that series.

    Similarly, with the current edition of the Systems Analyst, you chose to focus on DC in a game which they won, and in which, the first two Washington goals were scored as a result of major defensive lapses by New York.

    You do great work, but it’s time to bury the beef.

    • I love that people think that a guy doing a post analyzing a certain breakdown has to do with “beef”. FFS, he’s showing people who don’t watch the game in the same critical manner that former players and coaches do what caused a goal, he’s not tearing people apart anymore than they deserve for lapses. The frequency of the Caps is weird, to the point that Bourne acknowledges it in the first sentence of the post, but sometimes you just end up seeing plays that work for this type of post from the same team.

      Moral of the story, once again I have been reminded that the internet is full of idiots.

  4. Come on, a bad change? You can do better. We don’t need you to point out a bad change that is obvious on its own.

    • This wasn’t a bad change. Laich saw they were covered and went off when he had the chance. If Brouwer’s initial pass was a little better he would have just chipped it deep and went off anyway.

      I do think your point about “obvious problems” answers Red, though. We don’t need SA posts on something anyone could see. (Unless it’s astonishingly obvious, such as the one where the whole team left the zone for a change on the penalty kill, even though the attacking team was in full possession and heading their way. That was fun.)

      The Caps probably top the leaderboard on these posts, true, but I can remember many that had nothing to do with Washington. Carl Hagelin’s overeager forecheck, for example, or Edmonton’s “Panic at the D-Zone!” goal against Toronto where they blithely ignored Phil Freakin’ Kessel orbiting their net.

    • As pointed out already, this isn’t about a bad change.

      Read the post, this is about poor defense against a neutral zone regroup that should have been a simple 3 on 3 situation.

  5. The bad change left Girardi open. He was of no consequence when it’s Richards and Gaborik coming in.
    This one is on Brouwer. Bad clear to start. Then he fakes covering Richards. The pass goes to Gaborik, and he stops covering Richards leaving Schultz to cover a 2-on-1 from two high end players.

    The first two Capitals goals were because of errors to obvious to make a post out of.
    The third goal was because Backstrom interfered with Boyle getting out to Ovie for three seconds. The irony was they were on that power play for an interference penalty.

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