Starting the Vorobyev-Cazzola-Anderson line, the Capitals were closed down early on in the offensive zone, finding themselves unable to generate pressure on the Sheffield net. However, they would find an early goal regardless. Just 2:18 into the period, Mike Cazzola split the Sheffield defence with a pass to send Pavel Vorobyev clean on goal, and the veteran Russian forward made no mistake, beating Ervins Mustukovs five-hole. The Capitals were able to generate a few medium risk chances on net after scoring, but were mostly cut off by Sheffield’s aggressive back-checking and possession oriented play style in the neutral and offensive zones. There were multiple moments where Sheffield could have scored and tied the game, but recent EIHL fans player of the week Tyler Beskorowany practically stood on his head this period, making some very difficult saves appear easy. The Capitals were fortunate for Beskorowany’s strong play. They turned the puck over more than they would have liked and left Steelers’ forwards wide open unmarked at times. Sheffield would get one chance on the powerplay with 4:15 left in the period, but the Capitals did a spectacular job at breaking up Sheffield’s rushes before they were able to set up in the offensive zone.
Score after one: Capitals 1 Sheffield 0
This period would go far differently from the first period. Continuing to come up big, Beskorowany could not prevent Sheffield from taking advantage of near total pressure and possession of the puck. After parking in the Capitals zone, they would score to tie the game at one while Beskorowany was screened. Around the halfway point in the period, Patrik Moisio would go through on goal on a breakaway, but missed the net. The Capitals would fail to generate any significant chances on offense the entire rest of the period, while Sheffield dominated. After letting up a surprisingly soft goal to lose the lead, Beskorowany would be beaten again on a deflection, giving Sheffield a cushion with a two-goal lead. The period would be noted by sloppy giveaways and poor control of the puck in the offensive zone by the Capitals. The Steelers would add a fourth goal in the last minute of the period to further demoralize the Capitals.
Score after two: Capitals 1 Sheffield 4
Early on in the third period, the Capitals were able to create some chances on Sheffield’s net, however, they could not find an early goal to shift momentum. With 15:20 remaining in the game, the Capitals would go to the powerplay after the Steelers were caught with too many men on the ice. They were unfortunately unable to score. The action in this period was more evenly matched than before, but still, Sheffield looked the more dangerous side. This was shown when they would make it 5-1 with 11:24 left, as the Steelers’ forward ripped a heat-seeking missile of a wrist shot past Beskorowany. With 9:35 left, the Capitals would yet again go to the powerplay, this time on a hooking call. Once again, they could not score. Sheffield would add a sixth and seventh goal with less than two minutes remaining in the game.
Final Score: Capitals 1 Sheffield 7
- The Capitals played very sloppy hockey tonight
Turnover after turnover. That was truly the theme of tonight’s game. This isn’t a new theme to Capitals hockey, though it is even more glaringly evident after the team’s tactical switch to scrappier hockey. Because of this, it appears at times like the Capitals are skating around directionless, waiting for someone to make a big play that just isn’t happening. Additionally, their positioning on the ice, both offensively and defensively, was entirely lacking tonight. In their own zone, the Capitals were entirely unaggressive and left forwards wide open for clear chances near the crease, and offensively they did not provide enough support for their forwards when they managed to push the puck into the corners and behind Sheffield’s net.
2. Only so much Beskorowany can do
Only one of the goals tonight can be blamed on the Canadian former AHL goalie. Other than that goal, Beskorowany looked very good tonight. Despite this, no matter how much he is able to stand on his head and keep the Capitals in the game, pressure eventually leads to leaks in the defensive zone, and this is exactly what happened. One cannot realistically expect the Capitals to keep a 1-0 lead when almost all of the play is happening in their own zone. He also very noticeably lost confidence as the Capitals defence let him down.
3. Faceoff woes contribute to lack of control
The Capitals only won 16 of 44 faceoffs, or 36%. This, simply put, is not good enough in any level of hockey. Recently, the Capitals had improved their faceoff percentage, but tonight they regressed in this statistic. To me at least, it is a symptom of their overall lack of confidence and coordination displayed in this game.
The Capitals play again at home next Saturday against Guilford.
Image Courtesy of Edinburgh Capitals