It has become a familiar refrain. The Washington Capitals have dug themselves out of a hole, once again. A hole that obviously they put themselves in.
Their record this season, in what very well may be a banner year for them from a points perspective, is somewhat amazing considering the amount of times the other team has scored first on the Caps.
Capitals Dig Out Against Kings
The Capitals most recent experience in giving away the lead came against the Pacific Division giant Los Angeles Kings. In what could easily be seen as a 2016 Stanley Cup match-up preview, Washington put themselves in a hole early by giving up three goals in the first period. Giving away the lead is nothing new to the Capitals this season, but giving up three in the first to a team of the Kings’ caliber was particularly abhorrent.
In what seems to be a game they are playing, literally, with their opponents, the Caps then came back with an inspiring three goals in the third period, topped off by this sweet backhander from Dmitry Orlov:
— Washington Capitals (@washcaps) March 10, 2016
Unfortunately for Caps fans, once the game was back to even, it headed to overtime where the Kings prevailed on a goal by Jeff Carter.
The games don’t need to play out like this. Sure, the Capitals don’t want to give up the early lead, but they are. They obviously have the horses to pull themselves back into each game. And many times, to win the game.
In a Washington Post article on February 23, the Capitals’ Vezina Trophy candidate stated what might be the reason for these trenches which Washington finds themselves in again and again: “Holtby said that stems from the difficulty in ‘getting mentally up for games’ as a team in the Capitals’ position.”
Is the team getting complacent with their success? It’s certainly possible, given they are a lock to make the playoffs, and almost certainly have home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference contests.
What I think we’ll find is that the Capitals stop giving up these early leads when the games mean more in April. They do need to be careful that they don’t fall into a pattern of lackadaisical first periods, heading into the playoffs, which becomes difficult to break. If the first period cavities continue into April, this potentially record-setting Washington squad may find themselves unexpectedly on the golf course in May.