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Caps know they need better effort than last night

Dec 14, 2011, 1:03 PM EST

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When Dale Hunter was hired to coach the Capitals, he promised a focus on defensive responsibility. Last night on home ice, his team was blown away, 5-1, by the Flyers.

Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Although at least it was built eventually.

“Every time the puck crossed our blue line it ended up in our end for 30 seconds at a time,” said Caps forward Jeff Halpern, as per the Washington Post. “We didn’t work hard to get the spots and we never came out with the puck clean out of our own end.”

In its past four games, Washington has surrendered 14 goals.

Mike Green’s extended absence hasn’t helped the Caps move the puck from one end to the other, but if work ethic is the big problem, his return won’t mean much, whenever that happens. Playing good defensive hockey is a lot like tackling in football – you have to want to do it. It’s not fun. It doesn’t bring the fans out of their seats. But you can’t win without it.

“I think we’re all disappointed in the effort and you don’t offer up many excuses tonight for what happened,” veteran forward Mike Knuble said. “You get back to it and you get better.”

Washington’s next game is Thursday in Winnipeg.

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