Spencer Carbery has been patient with his team for most of the season. He preached to his players to trust the process after a disastrous five-game start that had them sitting dead last in the Metropolitan Division. And he’s gone out of his way – while being refreshingly honest with the media about what he sees – to defend, encourage, or perhaps spin his answers at times to protect his players.
But Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Florida Panthers — one of the Eastern Conference’s most talented teams — was a different animal (pun intended). A frustrated Carbery named names and called out “mind-boggling” and “egregious” mistakes with the puck in his postgame press conference, showing his competitive drive.
Take for example the Panthers’ overtime game-winner 15 seconds into the frame.
“Kuzy out of position,” Carbery said, not mincing words. “He chased down ice and then lost a foot race. If you’re going to chase down ice, you can’t get beat and he got beat.”
The Russian pivot, staring at the Panthers’ Evan Rodrigues about to breakout from behind their own net, got caught flat-footed and lackadaisical as Sam Reinhart sprinted up the ice down the right wing. A quick pass to Aleksander Barkov at center ice quickly created a two-on-one where Reinhart, the Panthers’ leading-scorer, beat a shrinking-in-net Darcy Kuemper on his forehand.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 9, 2023
Aliaksei Protas couldn’t escape Carbery’s wrath either, after the Belorussian forward offered a cliche response postgame about how the Caps need to learn how to play with lead better.
“Yeah, I don’t know if I agree with him because I can tell you this, we haven’t had the lead very much this year,” Carbery said while exhibiting a frustrated laugh. “So I don’t know the sample size he’s going off of exactly. What did we have it for five minutes tonight? We score, [Carbery looks at game sheet] we had it for seven minutes.
“Maybe the three minutes at the start of the third were fine. We started to panic a little bit and showed our youth in some situations where we just threw it away. So I mean, fair observation in tonight in a three-minute situation. We need to get the lead more is what I’m focused on.”
[Editor’s note: The Capitals had the lead for 2:07 in the first period and 7:42 between the second and third periods.]
The Capitals scored the game’s first goal — an Anthony Mantha pass that deflected into the net — and only trailed for only nine minutes and 28 seconds total in regulation. Carbery admitted that liked the Capitals’ first period “for about 17 and a half minutes” but he was not happy with the second and third stanzas.
“We made some egregious mistakes with the puck that are just — against a team like them you can’t make, especially against their best people who are all feeling it tonight and buzzing around.,” Carbery said. “We just made some really really mind-boggling plays with the puck, decisions with the puck, positional stuff in the second and third period. We had a few looks. But not near our standard and what we’re capable of.
“You can’t just lose a guy and give up a backdoor tap-in,” he added. “You can’t ice the puck when we’re already tired. And there’s options. At least go skate behind the net and stop and just hold and go ‘Whew, let me reset here.’ And that’s what I felt like we did in situations where you just go, ‘What are we doing?’”
As for the Capitals having a fifth goal taken away in seven games due to either being offside or goaltending interference, Carbery could only laugh a terrorized laugh.
“We are going to start working on drills staying onside and staying away from the goalie,” he said sarcastically. “Yeah. I don’t put much into those. It’s just a string of bad luck. We’ve got other things to worry about that we can correct.”
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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