The Washington Capitals fell to the weary Arizona Coyotes 4-1 at Capital One Arena Sunday night. The Coyotes played the night before against the Pittsburgh Penguins while the Capitals had a day of rest.
“Overall this wasn’t our best effort,” Nicklas Backstrom said.
“Just that little extra seems to be lacking,” John Carlson added to the Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan. “Just call it a little blah. We’re just a little blah right now.”
NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May took his evaluation of the team a step further, indicating the Caps seem uninspired due to a Stanley Cup hangover.
May had this to say during NBCSWSH’s postgame coverage.
I get one of the things that’s going on emotionally with this team is that every game in this building was so intense in April, May, and June. The fans were off their rockers and what was going on outside of the building, there was a carryover on down to the ice. Right now, it’s not been inspiring. You know? The fans aren’t into it because I don’t think they’re seeing enough from the players.
But the players are professionals. They’re going to have to get their acts together very soon because people are paying hard-earned money. The effort has to go both ways. Give the fans something to cheer about. I don’t see a physical play, a commitment on pucks, blocking shots. It’s not there. It has to get to the next level.
May’s criticism then turned into a pep talk for the team as they head into an eight-day road trip that will take them to Minnesota, Winnipeg, Colorado, and Montreal.
They’re champions, but that was last year’s champions. That was 2018 champions. This is the 2018-2019 season. They’ve got to be so much better in the next little while. Locker called it the hornet’s nest; I call it Hell Week because a lot of bad things could happen if they don’t get their A-game going (during this road trip). They need to have their star players going.
I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of Ovechkin all season, out of Backstrom all season, Oshie, Carlson. And they’ve got to have more out of other guys, especially the top-level guys. They’ve got to be bringing it every night.
May left Evgeny Kuznetsov off his list despite the Russian center leading the team in points (20). While Kuznetsov has been a boon on the powerplay (6 goals), his underlying play at five-on-five has been woeful. Other notable names May left off include Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov, Jakub Vrana, Andre Burakovsky and Lars Eller.
While many of the Capitals’ star veterans came into camp in fantastic shape, most notably Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin, the team has struggled to find consistency early on. A new coach, new formations, and a shorter than usual offseason all may be a factor into that. But Washington will need to find their game quick. The Caps currently sit sixth in the Metropolitan Division and are three points outside of the second wildcard. Teams that are outside of one of the top eight playoff spots after Thanksgiving usually find it difficult to claw their way back later in the year.
This upcoming road trip is very important.
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