Everyone said it would take the Washington Capitals some time to adjust to new coach Adam Oates system. But with the team currently sitting in last place, having lost eight of the last 10 games, including last night’s 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the grace period for working out the kinks is long over. The Capitals need to figure things out and fast.
And if last night’s loss to Toronto taught the Capitals anything, it was that they have communication issues to work on. In the first period Toronto took a 1-0 lead, on a goal that should never have even occurred in the first place.
Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth and defenseman Tom Poti were both behind the net for the puck, yet they seemed confused as to who was going to take it. Then, in comes Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk to take advantage of the situation.
“"I saw them kind of looking at eachother, like, `Who was going to take the puck?" Van Riemsdyk told media. "And it was just sitting there, so I went to go grab it and was able to just kind of wrap it in.” Meanwhile, Neuvirth said it was an “easy goal for them.” Yes, an easy goal that the Capitals created in the first place.
Two minutes later van Riemsdyk scored again, this time with assistance, to put the Maple Leafs 2 up on the Capitals.
A positive of yesterday was that the Capitals were able to capitalize on 2 of 3 power play opportunities, with goals from Marcus Johansson and Mike Ribeiro. Johansson scored towards the end of the first period, his first of the season, to bring the Capitals within one.
But then Toronto’s Korbinian Holzer hit a slap shot from near the blue line that apparently deflected off of someone’s stick to go in, extending Toronto’s lead 3-1. The Capital’s answered back in the third period, as Mike Ribeiro scored on a power play, assisted by Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer to put Washington within one of Toronto.
But the Capitals could not muster up another goal, with shots from both Ribeiro and Potti being stopped by Toronto’s goalie Ben Scrimens, who made 24 saves that night for his team. The Capitals ended up taking a 3-2 loss for the evening, with Oates himself appearing to be lost.
“You run out of clichés to say to the guys,” Oates said, adding that it was tough for the team to keep their confidence up lately. “It’s part of the job. We’ve got to figure out ways to get guys to understand that you’re doing a lot of good things – and hopefully it’ll turn our way.”
Right about now, the Capitals could really use their captain and two-time MVP Alex Ovechkin, circa 2009-2010. During that season Ovechkin racked up 9 goals in his first 10 games, but thus far this season he has 2 on the books.
An aggressive, fired-up Ovechkin, similar to the guy from those 50-goal plus seasons, would be a welcome surprise for the team and its fans. Oates has said he can get the once prolific player back to his glory days, but it has yet to be seen.
Here’s hoping the Capitals get it together for Thursday, when they’ll be away at Pittsburgh (7-3). And you can bet that the Pittsburgh Penguins will be ready to take advantage of a Capitals team still trying to figure itself out. Puck drops at 7 PM.
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