After an ugly 5-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Friday night, two members of the Washington Capitals questioned the team’s resiliency and ability to play for their own pride once the contest was out of reach.
Both Jeff Halpern and Troy Brouwer spoke out about the Capitals’ propensity to make technical mistakes and commit turnovers frequently. But after another embarrassing defeat, their emphasis was on the Capitals’ lack of fight at this stage of the season given what is at stake.
“I think that was lacking,” Brouwer said of the team’s effort in the third period, which it began trailing 5-0. “I don’t think we worked very hard in the third period. I thought we packed it in. We looked like a real timid, beaten-down hockey team. We have to make sure there’s no quit in us ever ’cause nobody is ever out of a game.”
Said Halpern: “After the third goal, we just seemed like a deflated team. It’s a complete knock on the guys in the room. All of us, myself included, for having absolutely no response.”
In the end it’s just one loss. The Capitals remain in ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 69 points, one behind the eighth-place Winnipeg Jets, who have played two more games but won’t again until Monday. But the growing trend of these types of losses is impossible to ignore.
“We’re not out of [the playoff race] but it’s not what we want, not just the result but just how the game was played,” Halpern said. “When it was 5-0, just a lack of pride. Just a completely horrible effort. After the first little bit, it was just awful.”
Brouwer: “When you’re down by a couple you have to keep on playing hard. You can’t just pack it in, you can’t look forward to the next game. You have to build off the last part of your game and take that over into the next game. Our next game is Philly and it’s a real tough hockey team. We would like to tighten it up, show a little bit more determination, a little bit more pride in the last period there and create some opportunities and feel good about ourselves going into next game.”
While the players voiced concern and criticism, Coach Dale Hunter focused on the missed opportunities to take an early lead in the first period and dismissed questions about the team’s effort. When told that a player had suggested the Capitals mailed in their performance, Hunter replied: “No, no. It’s a frustrating game. It’s all frustration.”
“As a coach, you can’t get frustrated,” Hunter said. “You have to be thinking all the time. It was one of those games where they jumped on us early. They scored, their goalie made big stops and it’s tough to come back.”
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