As the NHL season enters its third month, the Washington Capitals are still searching for some semblance of consistency.
The team’s first 27 games have been plagued by uninspiring starts, defensive lapses after scoring, and deviations from the game plan by top players. On any given night, the Capitals might fall victim to those mistakes, win in spite of them, or even put together a complete performance.
Despite it all, Washington (14-11-2) entered Monday in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
It’s a fortuitous position to be in. The Capitals, who host the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night, know they have struggled to string together those complete performances.
“It just depends on us keeping it up for maybe 10 games at a time,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “A bigger chunk than just three or four. And then, after that, maybe we can talk about everything being turned.
“The nice thing is that I think overall we’re seeing a little bit more good than we are bad, and we’re seeing a few games that are, in my opinion, playing the right way, the right way to win.”
Washington’s most recent game — a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders on Saturday — provided a glimpse of what the team can be when it functions as a cohesive group.
The Capitals had a one-goal deficit with less than two minutes remaining in regulation, but they minimized turnovers, worked effectively as five-man units and ultimately ground out a victory.
Coupled with the latter stages of their 3-2 shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens on Friday, the Capitals provided an adequate blueprint on how to capture that elusive consistency.
“I think these two last games, we’ve come back and we’ve played better,” forward Marcus Johansson said. “We’ve just got to get the consistency to do it every game because when we do it right we play really good. That’s when we’re hard to beat.”