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Knuble on Caps: We played like a “bunch of clowns”

Nov 8, 2011, 10:35 PM EDT

Ottawa Senators v Washington Capitals Getty Images

The most anticipated game of the night was the Western Conference leading Dallas Stars traveling to DC to take on the Southeast Division leading Washington Capitals. The Stars were riding a modest three game winning streak, while the Caps were a perfect 6-0 at the Verizon Center this season. Sixty minutes and an unbelievably lopsided 5-2 game later and the Stars winning streak is sitting and four games and the Caps are left wondering what happened to their perfect record at home.

Needless to say, the Dallas Stars can win anytime and anywhere.

There’s no shame in losing to the Stars this season. They’re sitting at 11-3-0 and own the best record in the league. Jamie Benn is scoring on everyone, Sheldon Souray has turned back the clock about five years, and Kari Lehtonen is playing like a former #2 overall pick.

That’s not how some guys were looking at it from the Washington Capitals’ locker room after the game though. Spirited leader Mike Knuble had some rather harsh criticism for his teammates in the wake of the 5-2 defeat.

He told a group of reporters exactly what he thought after the game:

“Maybe through the first five games I felt top to bottom it was a better commitment. Of late, I don’t know if we’re all committed. It’s sad to say and we all look bad because of the result – because we don’t all commit. We look great when we’re all committing; we look all like a bunch of clowns when we don’t. A very average team when we’re not all committed.”

Sounds like something the captain of a team would say, doesn’t it? Knuble went on to explain that the defensive breakdowns that were occurring had nothing to do with being prepared and more to do with execution and effort. Must be nice to have someone willing to step up and call out his teammates when the team is still 9-4 on the season.

Knuble understands that the Capitals have different expectations this season—they’re expected to take the next step. Comments like these in November are exactly the types of things we expect from leaders when their teammates slip in the effort department.

We have about 70 more games to see if the rest of the Caps take his words to heart.

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  1. stakex - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    Knuble’s great commitment this season has seen him end up buried on the 4th line. Thats really the guy who should be calling out the rest of his team for their lack of effort. I know the guys 39 years old and all, but this is kinda like Alex Semin calling out someone for being lazy and having no desire to win. Thats not to say he doesn’t have a point… just that I’ve never been a fan of a player calling his team out, when he needs to be called out as well.

    You know who really needs to be called out in Washington? Bruce Boudreau. A formiliar patern is starting to show in Washington yet again this season. High powered offense, but sloppy defensive play all around. Eventually the blame needs to fall on the coach here. Even if its due to lack of effort on the part of the players… its likely because the players are simply not responding to their coach. When that happens there are two options: Can your players, or can your coach, and we all know the players aren’t going anywhere.

    • danphipps01 - Nov 9, 2011 at 2:42 AM

      How’s it Boudreau’s fault that he’s got a roster with practically no defense? Mike Green’s their top defenseman. I don’t even need to say any more after that, but I will anyway, because the rest of the D corps isn’t much less offensively-biased and they dearly lack two-way forwards. Contrary to what you seem to believe, the GM actually does the hiring. The coach is stuck with what he gets. Don’t blame Boudreau if the Capitals’ defensive game is poor. They were built to be a team with roughly no interest in defending things. It isn’t his fault that that strategy hasn’t worked since the Oilers ruled the late 80s.

      • jpelle82 - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:07 AM

        thats funny, mike green. if he is your best defenseman you’re in trouble. i understand his pp value but if you’re matching up to play defense i can name 5 other defenseman on the roster i would rather have out there

      • rsl22 - Nov 9, 2011 at 10:11 AM

        danphipps01….do you even watch the team?

        Ward, Laich, Brower, Knuble, Chimera, Halpern, Hendricks….I’d call those two-way forwards. Also, Backstrom is a fantastic two-way player, and his career +92 can attest to that. Johannson, even playing with Semin, is +2 and is all over the ice, always the first man back.

        Carlson and Alzner are very good defenders, and if you have watched a single game in the last two years (obviously when he wasn’t injured), you’d see the Mike Green is a Norris quality defenseman. He had one -1 game when Vokoun admitted how awful he played, other than that, he has played awesome, and was the best player on the ice every night.

        Schultz is AWFUL, but he’s the only downfall on a strong backline.

        Boudreau is absolutely at fault here. He has no strategy, he doesn’t match lines, he doesn’t force his stars to change their ways, he has no authority over the team and he’s basically just letting his players do whatever they want. I’m a huge Caps fan, but until they get a real coach, I have no faith that they’ll do anything, even with the best lineup in the league.

      • stakex - Nov 9, 2011 at 12:14 PM

        Well is most cases the coach actually has a lot of say over what players the GM trys to aquire. Its not like the GM just goes out and signs players without ever talking to the coach. Sure he has final say, but the coach certainly gets to have an opinion in the matter.

        As for the coach having nothing to do with the poor defensive play of his players….. your kidding right? The players play to the coach’s system. As you clearly point out BB’s system over the last few seasons has been to simply go out and out score the other team, defense be damned. After some early playoff exits he has decided to try a much more defensive oriented play starting last year….. and the Caps haven’t been the same team since. Its not that Washington doesn’t have a decent crop of defensemen, or that they lack any two way forwards. Its simply that the players are not responding to BB and his system.

        Throw in the fact there is a clear rift between Boudreau and some of his top players and you have a bad situation brewing. When things between the players and the coach start getting bad, and the players are not responding to the coachs system in a favorable way… there is generally only one thing left to do, and its sure as hell not to fire the players.

  2. gopokes3281 - Nov 9, 2011 at 2:03 AM

    Knuble is just calling it how he sees it. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not an issue. I’m not going to accuse coaching just yet. And with the depth the caps have this year someone’s gotta be on the 4th line. They aren’t gonna throw Eakin on a grind line and the third line with Laich, Ward, and Chimera is perhaps the best line we have had this year. So that leaves Brouwer or Knuble to play on the 4th line. They have both produced about the same this year so in my eyes it’s a wash. Brouwer is younger, we gave up a first round pick for him, and has more years on his deal and is essentially Knuble’s replacement. Knuble is a veteran doing his job to his teammates. He is holding them accountable.

  3. bcjim - Nov 9, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    Horrible effort. If this continues BB has to be shown the d door.

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