It was a brutal back-to-back scenario for the Capitals to start the week. First, the Capitals squeaked out a 3-2 overtime victory against a 2-win Arizona Coyotes club on Monday night. The next evening, the Capitals played a flat, lethargic game, and lost to the Buffalo Sabres 3-1.
The Capitals played in 2 trap games, and could have easily lost both. It is not a good look for the Capitals to play in 2 close games that they should probably win.
THE CAPITALS MUST FIND COLLECTIVE EFFORT FOR A “TRAP GAME”
After 2 periods in Buffalo on Tuesday night, the Capitals only recorded 14 shots on goal. In addition to the low shot totals, the Sabres were without the services of star defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, and fellow defensemen Zach Bogosian, Nathan Beaulieu, and Josh Gorges. The Sabres were heavily wounded on the blueline, and the Capitals still could not muster more than 25 shots in the game.
Part of the Capitals “shots on goal” problem is effort (or lack thereof), and part of it is poor execution. Both teams were in desperate need of wins, but the Sabres displayed more effort throughout the game, despite their patchwork defensive rotation.
From coaches on down to players, every individual must stay motivated, and must find ways to play and work hard against any opponent. Whether the Capitals are going up against the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins or against the rebuilding Arizona Coyotes, every individual in the locker room must be up and ready to play in the games. There is no excuse for taking nights off. There is no excuse for sloppy execution and lethargic play on the ice. Every game should be treated the same way, no matter what level of opponent is on the ice.
HANDLING THE BUSINESS AND THE DETAILS OF THE GAME
The Capitals have many players and coaches with excellent character. Collectively, the Capitals must adapt and change the way they handle their business. Every game that is played, the goal is to win, and to take home 2 points.
The Capitals are going through some adversity right now with injuries, and they must change their mindset moving forward if they want to string wins together. The forwards and defensemen need to improve their play, and they need to play a little bit harder since key players like Matt Niskanen and Andre Burakovsky are on the shelf. Every player and coach in the Capitals locker room must find a way to tug on the collective team rope a little bit harder.
When a team is shorthanded, every individual must play a little bit harder. This is especially true on special teams, where the Capitals have struggled in 2017-18. The Capitals must find ways to manufacture goals on the powerplay, and they must find ways to keep goals out of their net on the penalty kill. Their 17th ranked powerplay and 23rd ranked penalty kill must improve for them to get back into the Metropolitan Division playoff race. If the Capitals can improve the special teams, and produce more shots on net, they should be able to get back into regular form and become more of a dangerous team.
By: George Foussekis