There’s no way for the Washington Capitals to gloss over this one. Their chances of reaching the playoffs take a significant hit each time they lose a game, but even that knowledge didn’t prevent them from falling apart against the Dallas Stars Tuesday night.
“There wasn’t one part of the game tonight that was good enough — 5-on-5, power play, penalty kill, everything. It looked like we weren’t prepared,” Eric Fehr said. “We talked about everything, but it looked more like a preseason game for us than a game that we needed to win to make the playoffs.”
With their fourth straight defeat, Washington is slipping further back in the standings. The Capitals are two behind Columbus, which holds the final wild card spot in the East, with just six games left no tiebreakers and the Blue Jackets have a game in hand. At 81 points, they’re now behind Toronto (82) and just barely ahead of New Jersey (80), whom they visit Friday.
While they’re not mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, the Capitals would likely need to win out to reach the postseason. And if Tuesday was any indication, they might not put up that level of fight the rest of the way.
“There was zero urgency,” Braden Holtby said. “If I was a fan, I’d be booing us right now. Playoff race like we’re in, we lose 5-0. It’s awful. There’s no words for it.”
Coach Adam Oates on what he told the team after the second period: “If somehow we make the playoffs and we play like this, who are we kidding? We have to figure out a way to get better, we have to stick together. It’s just us collectively in here. Obviously it’s very disappointing.”
More to come on Wednesday.