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Caps players question their effort, coach disagrees

Oct 13, 2013, 10:32 AM EDT

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 12: Troy Brouwer #20 of the Washington Capitals looks at the scoreboard as the Colorado Avalanche celebrate their win at Verizon Center on October 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Colorado Avalanche won, 5-1. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) Getty Images

It’s happening again. For the second season in a row, the Washington Capitals are limping out of the gate.

They suffered a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche last night to drop to 1-4-0 this season, but there doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to what the problem is.

Ask the players, and they’ll put into question their own work ethic.

“It’s about wanting to win,” Troy Brouwer told CSN Washington. “That’s all it comes down to. Our talent level’s there. Our effort’s not.”

Brouwer’s statement wasn’t out of sync with what some of his teammates are saying, but Capitals coach Adam Oates has a different theory.

“We had 19 shots in the second period alone,” Oates said. “There were moments we made mistakes, but I didn’t see effort being a problem. I saw mistakes.”

They did outshoot the Avalanche 40-28 on Saturday, but hit a brick wall in their former goaltender, Semyon Varlamov.

Offense has been an unusual problem for Washington over its last few games and Alex Ovechkin is the only Capitals player that can seem to find the back of the net with any degree of consistency. Oates is going to look at shaking up the team’s lines as they get ready for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

  1. vbcaps - Oct 13, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Avs looked like they are much further along in team play in the young season than the caps performance last night

    • dcfan4life - Oct 13, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      Caps always start slow, i dunno why. Makes no sense but the Avs do look good. Varly could be amazing if he stays healthy.

  2. joey4id - Oct 13, 2013 at 11:15 AM

    What is it with this team? Leonis doesn’t think the window of opportunity is closing, and he doesn’t see any weaknesses in the team, and players and coach don’t agree about the quality of their work ethics. Yet. They are 1 – 4. What a bloody mess?

    • wirsindderclub87 - Oct 13, 2013 at 11:46 AM

      Ted must have a really short memory.

      Well I don’t. I can still vividly remember sitting in my seat at the VC, watching 3 Capitals players standing in their own zone feeling sorry for themselves just after one lone player from the 8th seed Rangers came in, stole the puck, and put in a 5th goal. I remember wishing I hadn’t wasted a small fortune paying to go to a game 7 and watch this team put up by far the most pathetic performance from a sports team I’ve ever witnessed. I remember watching scores of infuriated Caps fans flood to the exit with more than half a period left to be played – because they knew the team that was once 3-0 up over this same Rangers team – lacked any real sense of heart, determination, or killer-instinct in which to fight back into the game and win.

      Not much has changed from that team, the roster may have a few new faces but this offseason has shown the same sideways progression that has wasted Ovechkin’s (and probably Backstrom’s) best years and will continue to do so as this team struggles to even make it to the 2nd round. They are not contenders, they do not stack up against the best in the league, they will not be winning the cup (much less probably even making the playoffs this year). The idea that neither George McPhee nor Ted Leonsis can see this is the very definition of insanity and those same disgusted Capitals fans that walked out on May 13th, the same ones that have been packing the VC every year since we drafted Ovechkin, are not going to keep coming back for status-quo. Maybe once this happens Leonsis will get serious about putting together a team that can actually win a Cup instead of one that just sells tickets – we’ve been through what? Five? Six coaches in McPhee’s tenure? Perhaps it’s time we stopped putting the blame on the coaches and put the blame on the team and the person who put them together.

      • joey4id - Oct 13, 2013 at 12:21 PM

        Well! It’s refreshing to get an objective assessment from a partisan. Most fanatics here are PHT are unable to provide an objective assessment of their favorite team. From afar, I come to the same conclusion as you, and have echoed the same comments. Tell me. What roster changes shoukd be made for this team to become contenders?

      • stakex - Oct 13, 2013 at 1:09 PM

        Hard to argue with any of that.

        McPhee really should have been gone a long time ago. He seems to have this philosophy that since they have Ovechkin and a couple other top players with Green and Backstom… the rest of the team can be sub-par and everything will be fine. Well, the first five games have shown that no matter how hot Ovechkin is…. he can’t carry a team this bad. If the Caps are ever going to be a serious contender, and you are correct that they aren’t even close right now, serious changes need to not just the roster but the entire organizations philosophy.

      • Ross Hollebon - Oct 13, 2013 at 8:01 PM

        Ovechkin is tougher than any of our defenders (except Erskine, who is not a good defenseman) and that is a major problem. I love this team but feel GMGM is holding them hostage and riding the coattails of Ovechkin. Our defense is soft and no one is afraid to go to our net because of it.

        Shake things up by moving Green and Johansson to get stars who aren’t afraid to use the body. Both are talented but make way too much to just float around. I like them both but really believe we could upgrade and get tougher and have the talent within to make up for any of their game we’d be losing.

        Let’s Go Caps!


  3. blomfeld - Oct 14, 2013 at 12:55 AM


    The Washington Capitals are a ‘quality’ organization who’ve had many successful campaigns no doubt .. and they were the first NHL team in the 70’s to feature a brother in their line-up. At this point however, it might be an idea to consider the old adage that ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees’ … In fact, I would submit that if you people feel that you’ve a problem, then it might be an idea to look no further than what’s directly ‘there’ under your noses !

  4. Bart Breen - Oct 14, 2013 at 4:57 PM

    1-4-0 sucks and it’s glaring at the start of a season, but you have 5 game sets like that in the course of most any season. It’s far too early to be moaning and hand wringing.

    The character of this start compared to last year is very different in terms of how the team has played overall. Ovi is hot and playing with an enthusiasm very different than the start of last year. There’s no question the defense is weaker than needed.

    All that said, you have almost half of the salary caps tied up in 3 players, Ovi, Backstrom and Green and for the first time in a long time, you have all of them healthy (knock on wood) and performing well individually to start, but you haven’t quite got everything firing on all pistons with the rest of the team. The powerplay looks good (better than good) and Holtby too seems to warm up slowly and improve as the season goes on.

    I still believe it’s going to be a good season and things are going to gel. A 5 game stretch of 1 -4 is glaring at the start of the season but it’s not time to panic.

    Oates is right. He knows his team and he’s a good coach. I’m not even going to jump on GMGM for this.

    5 games from now, I bet things are going to look better and continue to build.

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