October 22, 2020

D.C. United GAME 5 ANALYSIS: One slip sinks United ship

One play turned what would have been a scoreless draw into a 1-0 loss for D.C. United at Sporting Kansas City Friday night. A goal was scored by SKC’s Claudio Bieler, set up by Soony Saad, started with a bad United turnover deep on its own side of the field. In many games, such an error would be just one part of the total picture. But given how United has played in its three away matches this season, such a play becomes the flash point to decide the contest, because United’s defense and goalkeeper Bill Hamid simply must be perfect for United to have any hope of obtaining even a single point – never mind winning and getting three.

Consider these numbers from United’s first three away matches – at Houston, New York, and Kansas City: [Read more…]

Capitals players as mystified as fans on home/road splits

As we explained in graphic detail earlier this week, the Washington Capitals play much better at home than on the road.  This isn’t news in the NHL, most teams play better after they’ve slept in the comfort of their own beds.  But the Caps take things to an extreme, and this week’s games (a 4-2 road embarrassment to Buffalo; a 4-1 triumph over New York Rangers at Verizon) only further reinforce the dichotomy.

After Wednesday night’s win, the Caps own a sparkling 12-5-1 mark at Verizon Center this season — a 55-win, top-of-the-conference pace.  On the road, they’re a miserable 6-10-1 — a 29-win, last place in the conference pace.  It’s like they’re two different teams.

Still feeling good about themselves and the big win over the Rangers, we caught up with some of the team after Thursday’s practice to see if any of them could shed some light on the subject.  Surprisingly, most were as confused as the average fan.  Most pointed out that getting off to a good start on the road is crucial, but no one really seemed to have a good idea on how to accomplish that.  I guess if it wasn’t a mystery, they wouldn’t be struggling.

Anyway, here are their unfiltered answers to the question, “Why isn’t this team playing better on the road?”

Coach Dale Hunter:  “We have to be ready to play on the road.  Teams got their fans behind them, our fans are big for us, right?  It’s an advantage for us and on the road the fans are an advantage [to opponents]. We have to come out and jump on them early.  I think we’re getting behind early in the road games and by doing that you’re playing from behind and it’s tougher to come back.”

Mathieu Perreault:  “For sure, at home it’s always a little easier.  But there’s no reason for us to do better at home than on the road.  I think we’ve got to start playing a little better on the road, obviously.  At home you want to make a statement that every team that comes in they’re not gonna beat you, but we definitely want to be better on the road.”

Jason Chimera:  “We gotta play simpler, I think.  When you go on the road it’s the other building, they’re pumped up to play there, their fans are with them.  We just gotta keep it simpler.  Taking care of the puck is the biggest thing on the road and we need to do a better job of that.  We’re struggling to find something here and you play one good game, one bad game.  It takes a game like [against the Rangers] to really bring us over the hump.”

Matt Hendricks:  “I don’t really have any [idea].  We have no reason not to play better on the road.  The preparation’s there.  I think the problem has been our starts, our first periods.  We’ve fallen behind too many times on the road and when you do that [the opponent] gets their fans into it, they get their building into it and it’s hard to come back.  I liked the first period we had [Wednesday] night at home against the Rangers.  We hope to have that again [Friday] night against Buffalo, and continue to do that on the road.  I think if we could have a good start, it definitely helps this team with our overall success.”

Troy Brouwer:  “Maybe there’s just that comfort factor of sleeping in your own bed, playing in front of your own crowd.  It’s a lot easier to play at home and every team will tell you that.  The real good teams are the ones that find ways to win on the road.  For us, I think we just got to, I know it’s a cliché, but keep it simple.   Get pucks deep, do the things we need to do to win hockey games, put pucks in the right area, finish our checks, and just play a tough road game. “

Marcus Johansson:  “We’ve struggled this year on the road.  It’s something we need to work on, but it’s good that we’ve been good in our own, in Verizon [Center].  But we need to get better on the road.  I don’t know why it is, but it’s something we need to figure out and get it right.”

Tomas Vokoun:  “It’s tough to win on the road.  We haven’t been playing particularly well on the road and it’s tough when you get behind the eight-ball.  It’s especially hard to chase teams when they’re at home and they get the lead on you.  We just gotta have better starts to the games on the road.  We’ve given up some quick leads and it leads to having to force things and you want the opposite — when you play on the road you wanna smart-type game and you don’t have to put on a show.  You want to wait for the home team to try to do too much and capitalize on their mistakes.”

John Erskine:  “If I knew the answers, our record on the road would be a lot better.  Since I’ve been here we’ve always wanted to have a good home record.  We want to have the home-ice advantage in the playoffs.  We always want to play well here, but we want to do the same on the road.  It’s just, things haven’t been working out for us, I guess.”

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