29-17-10. That’s the Washington Capitals record as of Monday, February 14. That’s good for 68-points, second place in the Southeast Division, and fifth in the Eastern Conference. That’s a position that ten teams in the Eastern Conference would consider trading up for, but it’s a position that is considered a disappointment for the Capitals.

There’s no doubt that it’s been a frustrating season for the Capitals as a team and perhaps even more frustrating for their superstars. With the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green failing to score at the rate we’re all used to – perception of the Capitals in the greater D.C. area is not as favourable as it once was.

So what’s the problem?

The easy answer for what ails the Capitals is a lack of scoring which, when compared to last season, is the most glaring difference. The Capitals current goal differential is +11. The 2009-10 President’s Trophy winning Washington Capitals blistered opponents in the offensive department on their way to a differential of +85. The Capitals won the Southeast Division in 08-09 and 07-08 with goal differentials of +27 and +11, respectively – so it’s not as though a pace for less than 300 goals is uncharted territory for this team. Granted, they’re taking a lot less shots than season’s past. The Capitals who, finished third in the NHL in total shots a season ago, are currently 14th in the league in shots for.

Bruce Boudreau has the Capitals playing a more defensively conscious game this season as they’ve given up the second fewest goals in the East, but they’ve managed to come up on the losing end of one-goal games a total of 15 times (including SO losses). Ovechkin will hardly crack 30-goals at his current pace, Mike Green looks like he’ll post his lost point total since 2006-07, and secondary scoring has been far too sparse. Since January 1, the Capitals have won seven games and lost a total of ten (7-5-5). It’s relative downward spiral that has some questioning the team’s direction and focus.

On Frozen Blog didn’t pull any punches with their biting criticism of the Capitals on Monday, aiming at both the players and management:

The Capitals don’t just presume that an evening’s two points are theirs to lose, they don’t just execute a perimeter attack, they skate out on the perimeter awaiting pucks to come their way, with wings and centers way wide and up ice, requisite cohesion an afterthought. In years past, when they were still regular-season hungry, they would attack opposition zones with speed and cohesion, cycling pucks and engineering multiple scoring chances on many an individual rush. This season, it’s most often one-and-done in terms of shots registering on opposing goalies, and more often than that they don’t even register a weak shot on net from their attack. No psyche-breaking puck possession, no waves of quality scoring chances being engineered, no sniping from all angles of the attack. The Capitals skate with an entitlement ethos, for this is the culture management has cultivated.

The Capitals begin a five-game road swing tonight in Phoenix. As Capitals Insider reports, Bruce Boudreau believes his team can make this a successful trip:

“We’ve got five games right? A successful road trip for me would be to win four games and tie the other one, but right now we just have to start with a tough opponent in Phoenix,” said Boudreau, who was then asked about the ability to put together a strong run on the road with at least four wins.

“If we ever did something like that — it’s tough to do but not [impossible],” Boudreau said. “That would be the stepping stone that this team needed in the last quarter of the season.”

In season where snapping out of a eight game losing streak on HBO cameras and an eventual Winter Classic victory of their rival Pittsburgh Penguins have already been viewed as proverbial ‘stepping stones’ – it’s time that Washington Capitals quit searching for answers and deliver results. If one thing is clear, it’s that the Capitals are no longer beyond reproach.

Comments (4)

  1. The reason why the caps have switched to a more defensive game plan is because they are protecting their young goal tenders. They don’t have that veteran goalie (Tho) anymore and they lack a veteran 2nd line Center. Semin is doing nothing but holding back the caps. I went to see the caps play the Kings this past weekend and I focused my attention on Semin and all I have to say is WHY did the caps sign him for one more year at 6.7 Mil he’s lazy and will not attack the net. We played pretty good with out him and I think its time to trade him.

  2. Trade Semin for Brad Boys (Center) from the St.Louis Blues.

  3. I hope the Caps don’t trade prospects or even Semin at this time. Watching the Caps since 1975 there are times when it is obvious that the team has quit on the coach and don’t believe in him anymore. It won’t matter who they trade for because it won’t make any difference until this is solved. I’ve seen it over the years, e.g., Bryan Murray, Gary Green, Hanlon and a few others You saw the same thing with the Penguins until they changed coaches and years ago the Flyers and Mike Keenan. . I liked Bruce and he made hockey exciting but the team quit on him. There has to be a change, unfortunately.

  4. I agree with Bob Gilmore. The coach must go and GM GM should wise up. Instead of making a few trades for rugged experienced defensemen to strengthen their defense, they abandon the system that made the Capitals so successful and pleasure to watch last year and changed to the primitive defensive system. I understand when Coyotes or Florida play this system, they do not have $30+ million worth the offensive talent and have to make do with what they got, but Capitals should do better than that. Current situation reminds me of the Hanlon era and it should end the same way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *