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I Watched the Game: Did Washington Capitals Target Rob Scuderi in 3rd Period?

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Was Rob Scuderi as bad as he looked last night? How did the Capitals pick on him?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Racing out to a 3-0 lead after 40, it seemed like the Los Angeles Kings could do no wrong last night.

That is, until the Washington Capitals began gaining the zone with ease by targeting the lesser half of the recently re-formed Rob Scuderi-Drew Doughty pairing.

After two periods, the Caps had attacked both Doughty and Scuderi equally:

Period 1
Targeted 1 2 3 4 5 6
Doughty Break-up carry-in dump-in B B d
Scuderi d d c d Offside c
Period 2
Targeted 1 2 3 4 5 6
Doughty c c B B c B
Scuderi d d d c d c

While Scuderi wasn't nearly as successful as Doughty in breaking up Washington zone entries, at least he was able to minimize controlled zone entries (carry-ins/passes)the type of entries which generally lead to more offense.

This changed in the third period; besides entries, I'm also going to highlight other bad (and good!) Scuderi defensive plays.

Shift 1

After a clean entry, Nicklas Backstrom snaps an uncontested shot from the top right circle. Backstrom is able to follow up on his own rebound as Scuderi can't tie up the stick.

Shift 2 (Penalty kill)

While waving at a loose puck, Scuderi falls on Quick, taking the Los Angeles goalie out of the play. T.J. Oshie then buries it.

Shift 3

The Capitals actually target Doughty, but a Tom Wilson dump-in is intercepted by the All-Star blueliner.

Shift 4

It's a short Scuderi shift, as Kris Versteeg quickly draws a Washington penalty. Thankfully for LA, that's two minutes without Scuds on the ice.

Shift 5

T.J. Oshie gains the zone on Scuderi. The Kings clear on multiple occasions, but pretty much no farther than center ice, leading to two more Caps re-entries on Scuds's side, and 44 total seconds of tilted ice.

Shift 6

Matt Niskanen, in particular, enjoyed going at Scuderi. After this clean entry, he attempts a shot, then Oshie forces a defensive zone faceoff with another blast.

Shift 7

Darryl Sutter leaves Scuderi-Doughty out after the commercial break. Back-to-back-to-back DZ faceoffs ensue.

On the second faceoff in this sequence, Scuderi does a fine job tying up Alex Ovechkin's stick, forcing the star winger to kick the puck at Quick to cover.

However, things get messy after the third faceoff. You can blame multiple Kings (including Scuderi) for Backstrom getting loose. However, only Scuds let a 500-goal scorer stroll to the front unaccompanied:

Shift 8

Justin Williams criss crosses with Andre Burakovsky...in Scuderi's face. This entry leads to both Scuds and Vinny Lecavalier trying to cover one Burakovsky.

If two guys are on one, that usually means somebody is free. That somebody is Evgeny Kuznetsov. In his desperation, Scuderi does help force a still dangerous Kuznetsov miss.

Shift 9

Jason Chimera bull rushes Scuderi, but Doughty and Nick Shore help stop Chimera's momentum behind the net. Los Angeles clears the puck. Again, Niskanen has a choice:

Shift 10

Shift 11

Scuderi's first break-up of the period! Left winger Ovechkin, who had been denied entry on multiple occasions by Doughty earlier, tries his luck on the other side.

Shift 12

I guess Scuderi is just getting stronger as the game goes on! He beats Williams to the puck, getting it to Shore along the boards for the clear. But darn it, look at the time. And the score.

As for the final Scuderi-Doughty targeting tally?

Period 1
Targeted 1 2 3 4 5 6
Doughty Break-up carry-in dump-in B B d
Scuderi d d c d Offside c
Period 2
Targeted 1 2 3 4 5 6
Doughty c c B B c B
Scuderi d d d c d c
Period 3
Targeted 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Doughty B
Scuderi c c c c d c c d d c B

So did Washington make an adjustment between periods? Seems likely. Was targeting Scuderi the sole reason for the Capitals comeback? Absolutely not. But did the eye test hook up with the data last night to make one real, real ugly baby? Certainly.