Veterans question the Capitals’ work ethic


Troy Brouwer and the Washington Capitals have lost four of their first five games of the season. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Frustration boiled over in the Capitals’ locker room following Saturday’s 5-1 loss to the undefeated Colorado Avalanche, Washington’s third straight defeat and fourth through five games this season.

Troy Brouwer lambasted his teammates for a lack of effort, and fellow veteran Martin Erat also questioned Washington’s work ethic after another loss.

“We were too soft,” Eric Fehr said. “We’ve got a lot of skill, but we’ve got to put that aside and start working a lot harder so our skill can take over.”

The Capitals canceled practice Sunday, opting to hold a brief team meeting and allowing themselves the opportunity to clear their minds.

“That takes a lot out of you when you lose a game like that,” Karl Alzner said. “A team that’s undefeated and they come and kind of clean you up pretty good, it’s not really good for the head, so I think that’s the benefit is just kind of forgetting about it … and just kind of reset the batteries.”

The tone of the meeting was positive. Despite the score, coach Adam Oates considered Saturday’s loss to be one of Washington’s better offensive performances of the season, entering Colorado’s defensive zone 110 times for a total of 28 minutes and registering a season-high 41 shots.

“[Saturday] we did a lot of good things,” Oates said. “The score’s not going our way, things aren’t going our way. We’ve got to be better.”

That begins with the team’s start. Washington has allowed eight first-period goals this season, second-most in the NHL. Coincidentally, Monday night’s opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, are the only team that has allowed more.

The Capitals lost four of their first five games last season as well, and their run from the NHL’s basement to an improbable division title is well-documented. They are confident that things will eventually turn around.

“Of course we [are] all disappointed that we have [had] that kind of start, but it’s going to break out,” Alex Ovechkin said. “It’s going to go in our way and we’re going to be fine.”

Adam Vingan is an NHL.com Washington correspondent, the Capitals beat reporter for Express, and writes Capital Games for NBC Washington.

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Beth Luberecki · October 13, 2013