Capitals Head Coach Peter Laviolette on Team’s Struggles: “We Haven’t Improved Ourselves At All…I Think Everyone Understands That We Need to Win Hockey Games”

The Washington Capitals’ 3-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night marked their fifth consecutive defeat and pushed the team into a more desperate position as the 2022-23 season continues to progress.

The loss to the visiting Red Wings pushed the Caps to the fifth spot in the hunt for one of the Eastern Conference’s two Wild Card playoff positions. The club sits three points behind the Florida Panthers for the second and final spot for the postseason.

“You know I think the guys realize it was an important game last night”, said Head Coach Peter Laviolette of the team feeling the pressure of falling out of a possible postseason berth, “The two games before the [Stadium Series game] they were important games.”

“You don’t have to be that smart to see the standings and where everything sits, and that was the same four games ago.” Laviolette doubled down on the approach to remaining scheduled contests, the urgency obvious in the bench boss’ tone.

“We haven’t improved ourselves at all and that still holds true. Last night was important, tomorrow night is important. I think everyone understands that, that we need to win hockey games.”

The return of captain Alex Ovechkin to MedStar Capitals Iceplex following the death of his father Mikhail was a welcome one to the sixth-place team in the Metropolitan Division, with the 2004 first overall pick having his own wave of emotions as he took to the ice for the first time in over a week.

“…He landed, he came in, wanted to be at the rink today. Just a quick conversation with him and I’ll chat with him after he gets off the ice”, said Laviolette, who has coached the Caps’ captain for the past three seasons.

“He’s the captain of the team, he’s our leading scorer, helps in a lot of different areas”, Laviolette said of Ovechkin’s return to a struggling lineup, “Offensively, power play, leadership, size, physicality, presence, so there’s a lot of different things Alex brings to the table. I’m glad he was able to get home to be with his family, but we’re certainly glad to have him back.”

While Ovechkin may have not seen game action in a week’s time, Laviolette indicated he feels as though the 37-year old is in a good place in spite of his difficult week.

“He seemed like he was in good spirits based on what’s happened in his life, he seems like he came back, he’s excited to be here with his teammates, loves the game of hockey.” Laviolette continued, “We’ll have conversations when he gets off the ice, and see where he’s at, but the fact he’s out here, he came right from the plane and customs right into here to skate…that tells me his mind’s ready to go…”

The longtime NHL bench boss summed up Ovechkin’s impact in a few short words.

“He’s a big part of the team…it’s his love of the game that shines through in the locker room, it’s a big body, and a big presence coming back into our lineup so we’re certainly happy to have him back.”

Laviolette also gave a brief update on forward Anthony Mantha, who was injured during last night’s contest against Detroit.

“He’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.”

By Michael Fleetwood


About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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19 Responses to Capitals Head Coach Peter Laviolette on Team’s Struggles: “We Haven’t Improved Ourselves At All…I Think Everyone Understands That We Need to Win Hockey Games”

  1. hockeydruid says:

    LMAO…..LMAO…..Yes I cant stop laughing at the stupid statements that the HC makes. This time: I Think Everyone Understands That We Need to Win Hockey Games”; well coach isn’t you job to make sure that they know that they need to win games not just look pretty doing it? And if a player in the NHL does not know he needs to win games then why is he in the NHL and playing hockey is his job?

    With 11 days until the trading deadline I would say that Mantha is going nowhere. Maybe Eller, once again maybe because IF the OWNER decided that he is needed to get Ovie the scoring record he will be going nowhere until after the season.

    Now that the HC has said “We haven’t improved ourselves at all and that still holds true”, I would like to know what if anything he has done in a positive manner to improve this team?.

    • GRin430 says:

      Now less than 9 full days to the trade deadline at 1PM eastern time on 3/3.

      Time also can fly when you aren’t having fun…

    • jonicap says:

      Maybe we can trade Backstrom

      • hockeydruid says:

        Honestly why not? However I I dont see a lot of “We have to have that player to make the playoffs and advance to the Cup” on the Caps at present. Probably the best chips that they have are Kuemper, Lindgren, Orlov, Gustafsson, Fehervary, Kuzy, Strome and on the outside maybe Sheary, Milano and Dowd. There are just to many players injured or returning from injury, to many with age and salary or players not performing example Mantha. So IF Backy does not have a No Trade Clause and someone would want him and his salary and be willing to give only a mid to low pick then take it and be thankful as it is at least getting rid of a huge salary and a player who should retire. For me I would have no problem trading Almost anyone I named except for Fehervary, Lindgren and Strom. Kuzy just might grow into the player that he could be under a different HC and on a different team just like Samsonov. People forget that all sports are a business and players are just parts that can be moved around to fit different puzzles where one piece does ok here it might do better elsewhere. With all the FA and UFA on this team I believe that in order to evaluate them they have to play so with that in mind would it not be wise, especially since this is not a winning playoff team anymore to play players like McIrath to see what you have in him for next year; and not 1 game but for the rest of the season and the same with Protas and Alexeyev. After all we have seen the results without them now lets see how they play.

        • KimRB says:

          McIrath is 30 years old, and what you see, is what you get. His game isn’t gonna grow at this late date. He’s tough and hits hard, but he’ll never be more than a 7th defenseman

      • KimRB says:

        The problem with trading Backs is that he has two more years left on his contract, after this year. There are several teams that want center depth (Dallas comes to mind) but two more years at $9.2 million for damaged goods is more than most teams want to swallow. The Caps would have to eat salary to make that happen.

        • GRin430 says:

          The problem with trading Backstrom is he has a no-movement clause. He isn’t going anywhere.

          • KimRB says:

            Yeah that too, but it wouldn’t be the first time an NMC was waived. But the NMC is a totally moot point, since no team would offer the Caps anything for Backstrom in the first place, with that contract.

  2. Rick Hixenbaugh says:

    Watching the Caps fail to play in the manner that they themselves readily (and repeatedly) admit is “the right way” to win games…is getting old. No…I take that back…we’re waaay past “getting”. It’s been the same story…over and over for the past few years (thinking of the definition of “insanity”). C’mon…it’s not rocket science. Alan May could simply play a recording of his answer to the question, “What do the Caps have to do (differently) tonight ?…and go have a Port City Optimal Wit (or three). The Caps coaching staff should start watching Caps Pre Game Live as well as the intermission segments…smh

    • hockeydruid says:

      Totally agree! The time has come to dispose of 1 head coach and most of his staff; 1 GM and most of the front office; and let most of the UFA and RFA walk after the season and start a true rebuild no matter what the Little Napoleon thinks. His mistake of not paying Trotz and overpaying to keep certain players while letting others go has cost this team dearly. Wonder if Ted ever sits in his box and wonders “If only I had paid Trotz, where would e be?”

      • GRin430 says:

        They only have 2 RFAs, Fehervary and Alexeyev. No way you let those 2 young defensemen walk when they aren’t even arbitration eligible so the Caps have considerable leverage over them in negotiations — which means they will still be cheap for the next year at least.

        Folks, you shouldn’t whine about the Caps not playing kids and then losing them — after which they turn out to be stars — and then call for letting RFAs like Fehervary and Alexeyev walk after their entry-level contract expires.

        Unless of course you just like whining about the Caps losing young players who turn out to be stars… which I have to admit is more fun than watching this team play lately.

      • KimRB says:

        Little Napoleons don’t second guess themselves. More likely Leonsis is thinking “If only Trotz had honored his contract, like he should have, we’d have won another Cup!”

  3. novafyre says:

    At the 10:30 AM game today, the Stingrays were powerless. They had some sort of issue which delayed the start of the third but maybe also woke them up. The Rays scored all 3 of their goals in the third.

    But since they lost Turnbull and O’Neil, their offense has gone away. It’s not just losing the pair’s offense but not having those 2 around seems to have affected everyone. Defense is still strong, but the offense has been a no show for much of the time.

    Clay stopped 33 of 34. Bear had an assist and 1 sog, Martin’s sole stat was 2 minutes in the Box, and Benton almost had an empty netter in addition to his 3 sog.

  4. GRin430 says:

    The Caps have 4 games left before the trade deadline, including 2 against Anaheim that they absolutely must win. If they can’t win both of those games relatively easily that says more about the state of this franchise than any words from the coaching staff.

    The games against the Rangers and Buffalo are likely to be much tougher. They realistically need to beat Buffalo as well as the 2 Ducks games to avoid falling further out of the wildcard race.

    After the deadline they will have only 5 games against current non-playoff contenders out of 19 games remaining. Assuming they beat the non-playoff teams and win 3 of 4 before the deadline, they’d still have only 78 points… To get to 100, they’d need to win 11 of 14 against teams in the playoff fight, which is highly unlikely, since that is about how well they did in December, and much better than they have done any other time this season. Even to get to 96 points, which is marginal for making the playoffs in most years, they’d have to go 9-5 which is a low probability given the way they’ve been playing most of the year.

    Bottom line, their probability of making the playoffs is low at this point, and it becomes pretty much zero if they don’t beat Anaheim twice and then at least the Sabres in the next week or so. So we could know as early as tomorrow, but certainly by Sunday night, whether the Caps will (or at least should) be sellers by next Friday.

    • Lance says:

      A few websites give the Caps a 22% chance to make the playoffs. That sounds about right. Caps are very unlikely to make the playoffs and even if we somehow do it’ll be fast 1st round exit.

  5. Marky says:

    Jon. Check out tsn Chris Johnston writing about Orlov. Teams have started calling about him. Get on this man!😀

    • KimRB says:

      I’d be down with trading Orlov, because he’d fetch a king’s ransom. Should be worth at least a 1st round pick. Chiarot brought in a 1st, 4th and a prospect last year, and Orlov is better than him. Jensen could fetch a lot too

  6. Diane Doyle says:

    The question is … how to win games when they don’t score. They currently have 4 forwards with a 10 game or more scoring drought (Mantha, Milano, Eller, and Aube-Kubel). They have 4 more forwards who have a 5 game or more scoring drought (Johansson, Sheary, Dowd, and Hathaway) with one of those forwards having another long drought before his most recent goal. Goal droughts are approaching Scott Gomez territory. (Okay, not quite that bad but…)

    Their goals per game average over the last 18 games is 2.11, the worst in the league in the recent stretch. Japers Rink had a link to their stats since January 6. Let’s say, if the Caps had played the whole season like they’ve done since January 6, Connor Bedard would be calling the Washington DC area home next season.

    • GRin430 says:

      That last bit sounds really good… If they keep playing the way they have since Jan 6, maybe it could happen…

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