Frustration Building in Washington

The Washington Capitals have dropped 6 of their last 7 games – is there a reason to worry?

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That was Barry Trotz’s postgame press conference after the Arizona game last Sunday.  The Capitals had a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period in that game.  The Coyotes would score five straight goals in a wild 6-5 game that ended with a Capitals loss.

“That behavior has to change, or we have to change the people.”

Barry Trotz is one of the hardest working coaches in the NHL.  He is a veteran at his job.  He is a very successful man and he knows when things are not going right.

Mentally Fragile?

A knock on the Washington Capitals is that they have been a club that has been mentally fragile.  They have been criticized by many as a club that has been lazy at times.  Is this all true?  I do not think so.



The last couple of games the Capitals have played, they have not played poorly.  They have kept their opponent’s shots to 30 shots or less.  The Capitals have also struck on the powerplay in these games.  But how do they ultimately just blow them away?

When the Capitals have a mental lapse during the game, they make mistakes.  When they make mistakes, the puck ends up in the back of their net.  While the Capitals are still in the process of learning the new Trotz system, they tend to still go through spurts of laziness.  At times, it seems that some of the players lack a little self motivation.

The Washington Capitals are still in the process of trying to erase several seasons of bad habits.  These bad habits of laziness and execution were not fixed and corrected under former coach Adam Oates.

Accountability

Barry Trotz is a genuine head coach.  He cares about his players.  He wants his players to perform to the best of their ability.  But Barry Trotz is a blue collar guy.  He wants his players to follow his blueprint.  He is honest, but fair.  He will try to put his best lineup out on a nightly basis and he wants the Washington Capitals to have a family atmosphere.

The lack of execution and mental lapses the Capitals have displayed in recent games has got to be driving Barry Trotz crazy.  As poorly as the Capitals have played in recent games, they are still within striking distance of the playoff race.  A good head coach like Barry Trotz will continue to make adjustments in order to find the best line combinations.

Are the Mental Collapses Fixable?

The Washington Capitals are a team that makes mistakes during most of their games.  Can these mistakes be fixed?  Can the roster fully buy in to what Barry Trotz wants them to do?

I think the Washington Capitals have the ability to be an elite team in the NHL if they really want to be.  They have a very talented roster that can score goals and play good defense.  But a majority of the players have to have the mindset to play a full 60 minutes.  Several Capitals players tend to tune out in the game, which leads to the mistakes and miscues.

If the Capitals players do not have the mindset to compete for a full 60 minutes, then there is a long season ahead in Washington.  If they continue to tune out during games and continue to make the same mistakes, they will continue to lose more hockey games that they should not lose.

The NHL’s elite clubs (Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins) have adopted a family atmosphere in their respective locker rooms.  This family atmosphere shows on the ice.  Those clubs’ players play for one another, and they pick each other up when someone makes a mistake.  The family atmosphere carries the winning formula and the right mindset with it.

Barry Trotz is trying to incorporate this family atmosphere in Washington.  One can only hope that all of the players continue to buy in.  If they all buy in, there will be good things happening in Washington.  If players do not buy in, they should be shown the door.  Any player that does not want to attempt to fix their mental lapses and miscues should be shown the door.

If a player continually plays hard and makes mistakes, those mistakes can be fixed.  If a player tunes out and does not try and makes mistakes, then there are problems.  Time will tell if the Capitals have players who do not truly buy in.  The Capitals young guns are now in their primes.  It is time for the Capitals to fully buy in to their family atmosphere and systems.  In order to potentially win a Stanley Cup, the belief and attitudes have to be in the right place.  They have to learn to limit the mental lapses and miscues and they have to play a full 60 minutes.  If they can learn to get rid of the bad habits, they will become one of the NHL’s elite clubs.

Thanks for tuning in!