Following the Washington Capitals’ first players’ only meeting of the 2018-19 season, a second meeting delayed their scheduled practice on Monday by nearly 30 minutes.
Capitals head coach Todd Reirden spoke to the media after the team’s skate. Reirden addressed some of the topics they discussed during their meeting and just what the team needs to do to get back on track.
“Right now it’s starting with some physical errors, and maybe some mistakes, and they’re being compounded by more mistakes after it,” Reirden said. “Sometimes you have to go through some tough situations and learn some lessons [in] difficult ways to really grow your group. Certainly, no one likes going through what we are right now, but in the end, I hope to look back on this and say these were valuable lessons we learned.”
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 21, 2019
One thing that became clear as Reirden spoke to the media was that neither he, nor the team, are shying away from the admittedly big mistakes that they are making.
“Some of the things that we’re doing incorrectly, mistakes that we’re making, they’re big ones. We’ve got to go through those things as a group. Players and coaches obviously have video to back it up and ways that we can get better,” Reirden said. “Just with an earlier game yesterday, we had a meeting set up regardless of the situation, and we just spent a little bit extra time making sure everyone’s completely on the same page and understand that there’s areas we can get better at.”
The hardships that the Capitals are facing aren’t anything new. The road to winning the franchise’s first ever Stanley Cup had ups and downs, from defensive lapses to blips in their goaltending. Reirden made it a point to reiterate that he believes in the team, and their leadership group, to see them through.
“They’re a group that wants to take ownership in the product. They believe in what we’re doing. And as much as I hold players accountable, whether that’s not having them play in a game or playing them less in different situations, players need to hold one another accountable as well,” he said. “I think we have a really proud group, and our leadership group is very strong, and those are the reasons we were able to accomplish what we did. And many of those people are still in the room now, so I’m confident in that and the endgame product. I believe in the guys in this room.”
Monday’s practice will be one of the Capitals’ last before heading into their bye week, with a tough back-to-back against the San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs to see them off, which was why Reirden wanted to take more time to address some of their issues.
“That’s one of the reasons why we had extra time today. You also have to keep in mind that you’re going into a back-to-back, and you’ve played three in four days, so how do you properly manage your energy level and your physical side of things. Obviously it’s been a tough stretch of games,” Reirden said. “Looking at it as a coaching staff, today was a day for us to spend time on those things and hope that some of the areas we walked through, and went through on the ice today in practice, could translate into a little bit more success in those areas that we watch video off and talked about, openly about getting better in. I think that’s the strength of our staff and our players is to have an open line of communication.”
When asked whether the meeting they had on Monday bore any similarities to one from last season, Reirden admitted that these meetings happen more than the public knows throughout the season, depending on the areas that need to be addressed.
“We go through these type of meetings fairly often in different areas of the ice, where you continue to refine your game and talk about it, and you add in new people. You see different areas of focus. For the most part, we’ve responded,” Reirden said. “It’s constantly a process. In that discussion last year, there was some major changes being made and that stuff was already in place. Now it’s just about players doing their job, executing their responsibilities within that system, and being better. That’s something that I think we all feel we can be.”
Headline photo: @Capitals
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