It’s no secret that the Washington Capitals have struggled on home ice so far this season. The team’s overall record dropped to a pedestrian 16-14-5 following their most recent loss on home ice Monday night to the Carolina Hurricanes. The team knows it needs to do much better, but right now the solutions aren’t easy to come by.
Capitals forward T.J. Oshie isn’t really sure why the team has struggled on home ice so far this season, but believes it’s squarely on the players to turn it around.
”I don’t know. I can’t really put my finger on top of it,” said Oshie following the team’s practice on Thursday. “It’s really easy to, at home, try to do too much, individually. The flow is a little different because at home you can match lines, there’s not a lot of 1, 2, 3, 4… 1, 2, 3, 4 going on. I don’t know if the players just aren’t adapting very great to that. But we did the same thing last year. There’s really not an excuse for it. I think it comes down to the players being ready to play.”
Oshie added that it’s very important to turn things around soon, and to be able to play well at home in the playoffs, something that the players and the leadership team have assumed responsibility for.
”It’s a very important part of the playoffs, in the NHL, is home ice. It’s great to be good on the road, but you really got to be good at home. Those playoff games on the road are two times harder than they are in the regular season. So an area, we got to clean that up. That starts with the players, starts with the leadership, to get the guys ready.”
Nicklas Backstrom also struggled for answers as to why the team is so good on the road but have serious troubles on home ice. He also agrees it’s on the players, to be mentally ready to play.
“I don’t know, I don’t know what it is. I wish I could tell you. But that’s obviously an area we got to be better at,” said Backstrom following Thursday’s practice. “We’re not happy about that, the way we’re playing at home. Especially in front of our home fans. It should be a barn that we’re comfortable playing in, and take advantage of teams coming in here. As of right now, it hasn’t worked out great. I don’t know what the answer is, but we’ve just got to be more mentally ready when we’re at home, I guess.”
Backstrom added, “We’ve been talking a lot about it and hopefully we can just turn it around.”
— NoVa Caps (@NoVa_Caps) March 31, 2022
The Capitals will get a chance to improve their home ice record on Sunday when they host the Minnesota Wild at Capital One Arena.
By Jon Sorensen