Alex Semin and the Carolina Hurricanes invade the Verizon Center tonight in the Chinatown section of Downtown, DC for a matchup with your Washington Capitals. The first of a pivotal home and home series this week, with game two scheduled on Thursday night.
The Canes arrive with a record of 14-9-1. Good for 29 points, first place in the Southeast Division and third place overall in the Eastern Conference.
While the Capitals have taken necessary steps forward under the direction of Head Coach Adam Oates, there is plenty of work to do, as they sit 12th in the East with a record of 10-13-1. In retrospect, back to back losses to the New York Islanders and New York Rangers over the weekend has to some extent, back-peddled their progress made after a horrid 2-8-1 start to begin the shortened 2013 campaign.
“I think some of it is we’re tired,”Head Coach Adam Oates said. “Some of our guys are tired and you make bad reads. You get a little caught out of position, you can’t clear it, you don’t win face-offs, you need another save every once in awhile. It’s a little bit of everything.”
A little bit of everything sounds about right, but the Red Shirts have to to get back to playing their game and doing so for the entire length of regulation.
In the last 10 games, they are 5-5, but have shown signs of positive development with Oates and company behind the bench.
“Terrible start, an we’ve been getting better ever since,” forward Eric Fehr said. “We didn’t play a 60-minute effort this past weekend, but we had spurts where we were real good.”
Spurts of being real good is one thing, trying to find your way out of a wet paper bag is another. The Capitals must stay clear of costly mistakes which have lead to the opposition scoring crucial goals against, as well as, bad habits that have simply cost them valuable points in the standings.
“We can’t squander the points that we need to catch Carolina,” forward Troy Brouwer said. “They’ve been winning, they’ve been playing real good hockey as of late. It’s tough to catch those guys. We’ve got to make the best of it when we have the opportunities.”
Captain Ovechkin, is there anything you would like to add before such a crucial 120 minutes of hockey begins, tonight?
“Tough losses, but refresh our mind, forget these losses,” Ovechkin said. “I think it’s going to be biggest game for us. It’s kind of what we have to do. Beat the Canes and get back on track.”
Much easier said then done, but hitting the refresh button is certainly a start.
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Darren is the Washington Capitals correspondent. He spent the 2010-11 season covering the Atlanta Thrashers and the 2011-12 season covering the Columbus Blue Jackets. Feel free to contact him @ DKoz256@yahoo.com. You can also follow him on Twitter. DarrenCoslov