Welcome to the Washington Capitals week in review where we take a look at the happenings of not just the Caps, but the entire organization down to the South Carolina Stingrays.
Starting with the big club, Washington returned home last Monday night to battle the hot Phoenix Coyotes after losing three games in five days away from home. The Caps were bad on the road, how bad you ask?
Washington lost to the Nashville Predators, Winnipeg Jets, and Toronto Maple Leafs by a combined score of 14-3. To make matters worse, Washington was embarrassed in front of a Hockey Night in Canada television audience by losing 7-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs last Saturday night.
In fact, the last time a Washington team was limited to one or zero goals in each of three straight contests was Dec. 27-31, 2003, when the Caps were outscored by a combined total of 13-3 in three straight setbacks.
The last time a Capitals team returned from road trip of three or more games without a single point was four seasons ago. Back then the Caps visited Ottawa, Florida and Pittsburgh from Jan. 30-Feb. 3, 2007, and lost all three in regulation by a combined score of 11-5.
This season has been a season of streaks for the capitals. After starting a franchise best 7-0 this season, Washington is 5-9-1 since then. They have lost at least two games in a row four times this season, and dropped four in a row from Nov-12 through Nov-19.
The Capitals offense looked as if it were making a return to the form of the 2009-10 season when they led the NHL with 318 goals. That season, Washington was the first such team to score 300 goals in a season since the Penguins of the 1990's. They scored 46 more than the second ranked team in that category during the regular season.
During the Caps 7-0 start this season, Washington averaged 4.2 goals per game while allowing exactly two. The power play teetered in the top three in the NHL, and all seemed well in the land of the red.
However, there were signs of discontent just below the successful early season start. Several key players were not buying into what head coach Bruce Boudreau was selling this season. After transitioning his record setting offensive club to a defensive juggernaut last season, Boudreau has decided to clamp down this season, and become more of a disciplinarian, using the firm but fair approach in his coaching philosophy. Not having his team Captain on board has hurt his cause, as Boudreau seems to be coaching with one foot out the door at this point.
Boudreau called out Russian superstar Alex Ovechkin following a sloppy win vs. Tamp Bay earlier this season, and it seems as if the Great 8 has yet to recover. His game has become predictable, as Ovechkin has been blasted by many in the media including ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose, and NBC Sports Mike Milbury.
Without Ovechkin fully focused, the Capitals offense has gone from 4.2 goals per game to 2.66 over their last 15 contests. The defense has not fared much better, as they have gone from allowing two goals per game to allowing almost four (3.93) per contest during that same span.
What ails the Caps may be internal at this point, and who knows how this situation between Boudreau and Ovechkin will end. One thing is for sure, Washington cannot continue to play streaky and uninspired hockey with this talent and expect to win that elusive Stanley Cup the franchise so desperately craves.
Record and Standings:
The Capitals finished Thanksgiving week with a 2-2 record. Their overall record is now 12-9-1 (25 Pts.) which is good enough for second place in the NHL’s Southeast division. They are three points behind the first place Florida Panthers, and just one point ahead of the third place Tampa Bay Lightning.
Currently in the Eastern Conference, Washington is tied with the New Jersey for the eighth and final playoff spot.
Starting with their game versus Phoenix last Monday night, here is a summary of each game this past week.