Not much went right for the Capitals from the start of Saturday’s eventual 7-1 loss to Toronto. The previously identified problems of power-play struggle, sloppy turnovers, lack of winning battles and so on all cropped up again in what can be called, likely without much argument, the worst loss of the year.
That Washington has now played two consecutive games in which focus has been questionable is what makes this particular part of the slump bring frustration from players.
“Yeah, we didn’t mount much of anything in Winnipeg the other night when the game was actually closer. We’re going through a tough time. What can you say?” Mike Knuble said. “You’re facing a team that you look at the lineup and they’re injured and calling guys up in the morning from down in the minor league team, and they came out and played an unbelievable game and beat us in every facet of the game. Every statistical category – it wasn’t even barely 51 percent to 49 – it was substantial difference in every which way on the ice. You’ve got to give them credit for coming out and really kicking the crap out of us.”
Several players have acknowledged that the less-than-stellar play began long before this four-game losing streak and what was apparent against the Leafs was that they weren’t working as a group.
“Sometimes you go through funks in a season where things don’t go your way but you work with your linemates and guys that are on the ice and you try to work in packs of five,” Brooks Laich said. “You play defensively together, you play offensively together, you play for the guy beside you and you be professional about what’s going on. You keep working, you keep working, if you put in your effort, your solid effort, if you can look yourself in the mirror and say you tried your hardest then I think we’ll be OK.”
Said Dennis Wideman: “I think guys are working; we’re just not working in the right direction, not working together ….We got a guy going one way and we pass it the other way. I don’t know; we’ve got to put it behind us and move on really fast here because we’ve got some games coming up and we’ve got to stop this now. I don’t know.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau was asked if he agreed with the players’ assessment that there was a lack of cohesiveness within the team as a whole.
“I think when you talk about lack of cohesion, it means when you’re losing, guys try to do things individually,” Boudreau said. “And when you do things individually, things don’t work. It has nothing to do with them not wanting to succeed. I think they played hard right to the end. They couldn’t buy a goal at the end. That gets really frustrating after a while and then you try to do things individually and you cheat when you’re down goals.”