The Washington Capitals are 14-15-1 in their last 30 games (under .500) and have given up three-plus goals in ten straight games.
Wednesday, 24 hours after losing to the Flyers 5-2, the Capitals lost in overtime to the New York Rangers 6-5 after Mika Zibanejad scored his fifth goal of the game.
Capitals head coach Todd Reirden spoke to the media afterward and answered three questions. Reirden was asked nuanced things by reporters but used the opportunity to speak broadly about the team’s struggles.
Here is Todd Reirden in his own words.
“It’s getting too late in the season for players to take penalties and then we have to sit them because they can’t go on the ice without taking a penalty,” Reirden said. “So that’s how the game started and we battled and doing some good things and then you have to stop playing players because of uneven play from top to bottom. And you gotta be constantly in motion on playing four different combinations of lines and different sets of D pairs. In terms of our consistency from shift-to-shift, it needs to improve. Now major credit to us to get that goal in the end. That says a lot. And then we put our two best three-on-three guys out there and we let a player score his fifth goal of the game. By the numbers, the two players I had out there have over the past few years: our best forward, our best winger, and best centerman in that situation. You have to be aware of a guy that’s already scored four goals and he doesn’t get behind you. Disappointed in some areas that’s for sure.
“We have lots of high-end skill players that end up having to sit [on the bench] for far too long. That being said, some of them took penalties as well. You’re just not going to win with taking this number of penalties. You can only sit players for so many times – not dress them, scratch them for taking penalties – but eventually, they gotta make a decision in our own room that they’re going to stop handcuffing our entire team from having success. Again, I can hold them accountable by not playing them – like I did tonight from poor penalties or uneven play – but at the end of the day our group in that room needs to make a decision that we have to be more disciplined. There’s no doubt about it.
“We get scoring from other people. We got some scoring from different players. I’m starting to see some things come together a little bit with some lines and we just keep getting in our own way. Self-inflicted problems and they’re meaningful games. There’s going to be lots of emotion in games that goes both way. That’s preparing us even for Saturday because it’s going to happen again on Saturday – an emotional game. We have some players in our room that haven’t been through it. They haven’t been through playoff hockey. They haven’t been through rounds. They haven’t won Stanley Cups. So we’ve got to get way more hardened to these situations when the pressure and the emotion goes up then our response needs to be different. That’s something we’re going through the process of learning and it’s certainly not any fun right now. But, we can only hope that the pain this leaves after games like this, helps us play better on Saturday, and continues to teach us lessons that we can learn down the road. As I’ve eluded to all year, I’ve been on teams that have been through no issues for years whether as a player or as a coach and those teams don’t win at the end. It never happens. You gotta go through adversity. You gotta go through bad times. You gotta learn some tough things and our group is learning them. It’s certainly not any fun. It’d be a lot better to leave here with two points. That’s not the case so we need to continue to learning and go through the process.”
Headline photo courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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