Washington Capitals: Shape Up or Ship Out

Quit the Laziness and Excuses… Start Playing Good Hockey

Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (Tom Turk/THW)
Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen (Tom Turk/THW)

The Washington Capitals have had a rocky start in the 2014-15 NHL season.  Through 17 games, they sit with a 7-7-3 record which is good for 17 points.  Through November 18, they are fifth in the Metropolitan Division and twelfth in the Eastern Conference.

The Capitals are one of the best mediocre teams in the NHL.  On some nights, they have excelled and have played very good games.  But in a majority of the games, laziness and mental lapses have cost them several points.

Whether it is a goaltender misplaying the puck or multiple failures to clear the puck out of the defensive zone, the Capitals mistakes always cost them in some way.

Mistakes and Miscues

Common Errors

If the Capitals play a flawless game for 60 minutes, they are very hard to beat.  In a lot of games this year, something bad always happens. When that bad thing happens, the Capitals tend to get down on themselves and they start to wait for something to happen.  The Capitals tend to shut down after the bad things happen in games.

Bad giveaways by the Capitals forwards, defensemen, and even the goaltenders end with negative results for the club.  The Washington Capitals need to learn that bad things will happen in almost every game.  It is very rare to ever have a “flawless” or “perfect” game.  There will be bad penalty calls, there will be bad turnovers, there will be goals that go in the Capitals net.

When and if the Capitals can give effort for a full 60 minutes, the common errors that they make can become a minimum instead of a maximum number.  If the players refuse or do not buy in to what Barry Trotz wants them to do, they are useless to the organization.  Barry Trotz has been around the game of hockey a long time and has a ton of experience.  He knows what he wants and he knows what he is doing.  His blueprint is not full of mistakes and common errors.

Capitals Enigmas

There are some players that make fans wonder if they fit in the Trotz blueprint.  Some of the players have been in and out of the Capitals lineup in various games for different reasons.

Some of the Capitals who have been in and out of the lineup include Eric Fehr, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Michael Latta, Chris Brown, and Jay Beagle.  Some of these players have not been productive enough or they are used for various matchups and different situations.  For example, Evgeny Kuznetsov has played both centre and wing this season and he has bounced from the second line to the fourth line.

Do the Capitals have too many enigmas?  Is Barry Trotz still trying to figure out who plays best in what roles?  Possibly.  Does Trotz already have certain players in his “doghouse?”  I do not believe it is that extreme, but I do feel he has certain players who he favors over others because they can play in more roles.

Are the Washington Capitals Fixable?

The Washington Capitals have had a mediocre start to the 2014-15 season and the club is not getting the desired results.  The time is ticking for the Capitals to buckle down and to start playing hockey.

Every point is important in the NHL.  Every win is crucial because the league is very competitive.  There are not many “easy” victories on the schedule for any club.

In order for the Capitals to get back to their desired winning ways, they need to grow up.  They have to become mentally stronger and tougher as a group.  The Capitals need to expect the bad things to happen in games, and they need to learn to overcome those bad things when they occur.  Instead of shutting down and tuning out in the game, they need to keep playing and they need to keep their foot on the gas.

The Capitals need to continue to grow their “gang” mentality and they need to play for each other.  Each player needs to show a little more self-pride and pride for the club they play for.  If they can improve their pride level, this will help grow their identity as a club.

Yes, the Capitals are fixable.  But if the players do not fix their mentality and image, then some players will get shipped out and changes will happen.  The NHL has a business side – players are dictated on their performance too.  The Capitals have had this bad reputation of having a “country club” atmosphere for the past several years.  The organization has fallen a bit behind because of this.

The Washington Capitals need to begin playing good hockey and they need to limit the excuses and miscues.  The days of excuses are over.  This team is too good on paper to be an underachiever.

Thanks for tuning in!

4 thoughts on “Washington Capitals: Shape Up or Ship Out”

  1. Last nite’s win in Phoenix was bittersweet….there was Martin Erat on Phoenix’s third line…and a quick glance at the Nashville line score in Toronto showed F. Forsberg…the guy we dealt for him …with three more points…This will ultimately go down as one of the dumbest trades in recent hockey history…

  2. This article makes few very good points, but I believe there is much more. First, the player’s mind set before the games and during should be constant “hunger” to score as many times as possible and eventually to win the game, every game, all 82 games. Every single game should be approached with “do” or “die”, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals mentality, there should be self-accountability, self-motivation they have to play every game like its their last, now, I am pretty sure that some of the Capitals players play the game with such mind set. However, every player that puts on the jersey for a game should have this mind set or they shouldn’t be there, period. I am sorry to say but it looks to me, (I’ve seen my share of hockey games of all levels through the years) that several if not most of players on this Caps team are playing for a pay check, because they say the right things, they act right, they do most things right, yet there is no result. Yes, it could be a leadership problem or they just forgot what hockey is all about, they forgot when they were kids getting up early in the morning or going to bed late at night, driving to the games with their parents for hundreds of miles, they forgot the joy of hockey or no longer enjoy playing, I hope that’s not the case and I am wrong, I hope. I just don’t see that “hunger” to score and to win, against any team, in any rink, under any conditions, be it for bragging rights, for themselves, for their loved ones for whatever the reason is, but I just don’t see it, maybe I am blind and wrong, maybe. But I believe, and have always believed that this game that we all love so much cannot be played without crazy passion, insane desire to win, fanatical dedication to hard work and willingness to do whatever it takes and for as long as it takes to reach a result that would be acceptable to each player, the team as a whole and the coaching staff. Somehow all of the above, I feel, is missing and they need to find it very soon or this whole “debacle” will progress and spiral out of control even further, I do hope that they will find it though, we the hockey fans, Caps fans are ready and have been ready since 1974 for the Cup. Brings us the Cup boys, we believe you can!!!!

    Victory Belongs To Those Who Believe In It The Most…And Believe In It The Longest…We’re Going To Believe.

    -Alec Baldwin(Pearl Harbor)

  3. I see that 44 jersey out there for a lot of those goals and breakdowns. Cannot believe anyone in the org didn’t ask themselves why the Penguins were willing to let him go. Spending 10+ mil on the Pens rejects is really looking bad right now.

  4. If anyone can fix this mess Trotzy can. It will just take him a few months and then they will be playoff material, fer sure.

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