For most of the year, the Washington Capitals have been the NHL’s best team. But since coming back from their eight-day break (bye week plus the All-Star Break) on January 27, they’ve looked like a shell of their former selves.
The Capitals have lost four of their last five games and six of their last nine overall. They’ve given up the first goal six straight games. The bad stretch of play has erased their cushion atop the standings and knocked them out of first place in the Eastern Conference. With a victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, the Pittsburgh Penguins will take the Metropolitan Division lead from the Caps. Washington sits only eight points ahead of division-rival, Philadelphia, for the final playoff spot in the East. Every game matters here on out.
On Sunday, Peter published his snapshot, a statistical analysis of the team, and it points to a team-wide problem (minus Braden Holtby who has been brilliant lately).
But what do the players and coaches think? After the Capitals lost to the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 on Monday (they fell behind 3-0 before clawing back late in the third period), TJ Oshie, Lars Eller, John Carlson, and Todd Reirden all spoke to the media and shared their insight. Players and coaches usually aren’t the best at articulating or diagnosing problems to the media – there’s inherent pressure to not reveal much tangible information and keep things in the room – but I found the interviews to be more illuminating than usual.
Here are the Capitals in their own words about their recent stretch of poor play.