Some things stay the same, and some things change. The Capitals have certain habits that tend to repeat in multiple games, and some of these habits are not good ones to have. These same habits are occurring under Todd Reirden, like they did previously under Barry Trotz.
What are these bad habits that I am speaking of? The bad habits that the Capitals have shown are blowing games late, and surrendering bunches of goals at key junctures of games.
A FRUSTRATING START TO THE WEEK
On Sunday afternoon, the Capitals surrendered back-to-back goals in under 2 minutes in the second and third periods. The Capitals got too complacent too early against the Ducks, who continued to battle for the final 25 minutes of the contest.
On Tuesday night, the Capitals surrendered two goals in a 16-second time span in the early stages of the third period in Vegas. The Capitals went from leading the game, to playing catch-up in a matter of seconds. It did not help the Capitals cause in that they did not score a powerplay goal on the 5-minute major penalty to Ryan Reaves earlier in the second period.
Surrendering one goal can swing momentum in most cases. Surrendering two goals in a short period can swing outcomes of games.
Hockey is a game that has contains plenty of mental and physical preparation. For whatever reason, it appears the Capitals have mental lapses in between shifts. When something bad happens, the Capitals do not react instantly. Their counter-attack does not happen right away against the opposition.
FIXING THE MENTAL PREPARATION
The coaching staff and players must address this elephant in the room. There have been too many instances where the Capitals surrender leads, and end up blowing games for the lack of this mental preparation.
The Capitals must learn to fight through the mental battles, even with bad things happen. If a goal is surrendered, the Capitals must be ready to defend even on the next shift. The Capitals cannot continue to wait for something else bad to happen.
There is no good reason the Anaheim debacle should have happened on Sunday afternoon. The Capitals simply squandered two points away, and need to burn the tape for that game.
On Tuesday night in Vegas, the Capitals lost the mental preparation battle again. Minus not scoring on the 5-minute major penalty (which the Capitals needed to score on), the Capitals were in good shape heading into the third period. However, within the blink of an eye, the Capitals were playing from behind early in the third period. The Capitals lost focus and did not generate many shots in the later stages of the period.
The Capitals tend to lose focus after they surrender a goal, and because of this loss of focus, it can lead to more goals being surrendered by the team. The Capitals must continue to play hard even after surrendering a goal. The Capitals cannot decide to take shifts off after surrendering goals.
While there is plenty of regular season left, the Capitals need to tighten up their game. Instead of surrendering goals at critical junctures of games, the Capitals need to find a way to bury teams early. The Capitals must keep their foot on the gas for 60 minutes of hockey.
The Capitals are winners, and have an experienced group, but surrendering bunches of goals and blowing games late does not lead to continual success.
By: George Foussekis