The Capitals entered this week on a positive note. They lost in a shootout in Toronto, but they recorded 50 shots on goal, played one of their better overall defensive games and were generally encouraged by the performance.
They followed it up Wednesday night with a dud. The Capitals were as sloppy and undisciplined as they’ve ever been this season in a 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators, a defeat that prompted more visible frustration from Coach Adam Oates.
“We played a solid game in Toronto. We played lousy tonight. Lousy,” Oates said. “We get a lead and we still don’t do the right things even though on the third goal that we scored we get the goal from doing the right thing. [Brooks Laich’s] goal came from what we talk about all day long. We’re up 3-1 and the next shift we turn it over twice. That’s mental to me.
“You’re up 3-1, maybe you think it’s an easy night and then all of a sudden they get the puck again,” Oates continued. “We got the goals from doing the right things. We’ve got to be disciplined in who we are — even our fancy guys, probably from the fancy guys first. Some guys they know that they’ve got no choice [but to stick to simple plays] but guys with choices still gotta put it deep.”
From the 12 penalties, including nine minors that disrupted the flow of the contest and gave Ottawa far too many opportunities to climb back in the contest, to the Capitals insistence upon not playing a smart, simple game they’re all problems and themes that have been persistent throughout the course of this season.
None of what went wrong Wednesday night was new, except that it compounded in a particularly stinging defeat. One that was avoidable, no less.
“We talked in Toronto, we talked about it, we showed it. We showed why we were successful, why’d we get 50 shots and what kind of team we have to be,” Oates said. “We’re not going to win games playing this way, we’re not. We just proved it.”
And with that, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Five thoughts will be up on Thursday.