The mood of the Capitals' dressing room following a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Dallas Stars Tuesday was decidedly sour. Washington, losers in four of its last six games, suffered regular defensive lapses against the Stars and was decidedly outworked and outhustled by the opponent.
Asked why the Capitals are so inconsistent this season, Alex Ovechkin wasn’t sure.
“It’s good question but I don’t have the answer for this,” Ovechkin said. “I think everybody try and everybody wants to win and everybody wants to play how we can, maybe tonight was not our night.”
Alternate captain Mike Knuble, however, was unrestrained when asked by reporters what was wrong with the Capitals. The 39-year-old veteran winger was noticeably irritated with Washington’s lack of commitment regardless if it was only the 13th game of the season.
For a little more context, I’ve included the questions Knuble was answering.
Q: After last season’s focus on becoming a better defensive team, does that make the performance against Dallas and this stretch more frustrating?
“Defense takes urgency,” Knuble said. “Urgency in your play, urgency in your mindset coming into the game. I don’t know if it’s because it’s November -- there’s not that urgency yet. Nobody’s really under the gun at all. We still feel like the seaosn’s early,  games in you haven’t played that many games. I don’t know if that’s the case -- maybe a little bit more defensive urgency because last year we were under the gun when we started playing well defensively. Everybody made the commitment.
“They’re not scoring like ugly goals, either. They’re snapping it around and back door play, goalie not even in the net. They make you look bad. It’s embarrassing, when you’re on the ice and guys are beating you. The other night, get beat one on four, just playing like a bunch of losers. You’re going to lose if you play like that. You’re going to lose every night in the league, let alone talking about playoffs and all that. You’ll lose every night in the league and I think we all went through that last year.”
Q: Given the team’s previous disappointments, is it important to develop that defensive urgency now regardless if it’s November?
“You practice it, but it still just doesn’t happen,” Knuble said. “It takes a commitment. We practice it in practice — we can’t say we’re not prepared. We know what we’re doing. We talk about it, we watch film about it and then it’s just the commitment of doing it on the ice. Maybe through the first five games, I felt it was top to bottom a better commitment. Of late, I don’t know if we’re all committed.
“It’s sad to say and we all look bad because of the result, because we won’t all commit. We look great when we’re all committing, we look all like a bunch of clowns when we don’t -- very average team when we’re not all committed.”