Photo credit: Norm Hall
We’re reaching a key point in the season, as Capitals veteran winger Mike Knuble said after the loss to the Kings, “This road-trip could be great or it could be an absolute embarrassment.”
It seems like all year we’ve been waiting for Washington to just snap out of it and return to last season’s form. But at the start of their matchup with Phoenix, the Caps were fewer points away from being out of playoff position then they were of taking the number one spot in the east.
“If they’re waiting for some switch to magically appear, it’s not going to happen,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said after Saturday’s flop.
It’s time to wake up. And the Capitals certainly didn’t do that Monday night.
The first period was rather uneventful. Aside from an early power play, the Caps had limited scoring opportunities, registering just one even strength shot in the frame. But then in the second, the Caps decided to #CRASHTHENET, as Marcus Johansson used the patented bank it off Martin Hanzal’s foot move, putting Washington on top. However, Hanzal quickly redeemed himself, scoring just 49 seconds later, going five-hole on Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth. With less than two and a half minutes left in the period, Ray Whitney gave the ‘Yotes a 2-1 lead when his wrist-shot hit the back of the net. In the third period, Vernon Fiddler would push the Coyotes advantage to two when converted on a 2-on-1. Matt Bradley, however, would answer right back, cutting the lead to one under a minute later, getting a shot past Phoenix ‘keeper Ilya Bryzgalov. But that would be it for Washington. Coyotes beat Caps, 3-2.
This can’t be stressed enough, this 5-game road-trip is huge for the Capitals. After their loss to the Coyotes, the Caps find themselves in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, making them look at lot more like pretenders than a team with serious Stanley Cup aspirations. We all know the Caps have the skill. It’s time for them for them to look in the mirror decide if they are going to do something with it. The coaching staff isn’t immune either. The general can’t just blame the troops for their poor effort. He must take some responsibility for their actions. If the Capitals keep up the status-quo, they’ll be on the outside looking in.
Additional reporting by Ian Oland and Neil Greenberg.
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