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Three reasons for concern in Washington

Oct 17, 2013, 5:00 PM EDT

Nicklas Backstrom on Henrik Lundqvist Getty Images

Of all the teams that are off to poor starts, it feels like the Washington Capitals have managed to fly a bit under the radar.

Maybe it’s because the Caps haven’t been blown out to the extent the Rangers have. Or they haven’t had to fire the coach like the Flyers. Or they haven’t had horrendous goaltending like the Oilers. Or there aren’t major trade rumors surrounding them like the Sabres. Or they’ve actually managed to win a game (two, in fact), unlike the Devils.

But make no mistake, things have not been good in DC. The Caps dropped a 2-0 decision last night at home to the Rangers, pushing their record down to 2-5-0 after seven games.

With that in mind, here are three things that have to be concerning for the club and its fans:

1. Even strength, the Caps have scored just eight times.

The other eight goals they’ve scored (for a total of 16) have come on a power play that probably can’t keep clicking at a rate of 30.8 percent. Overall, Washington ranks 20th in the NHL in offense, averaging 2.29 goals per game.

Now, to be fair, there may be an element of bad luck to all this — the Caps have actually averaged a respectable 30.3 shots per game.

“We have our chances out there and we just, to be honest with you, can’t score,” captain Alex Ovechkin said after being shut out by the Rangers.

Still, you have to wonder how much the Caps are missing their second-leading scorer from last season, Mike Ribeiro.

2. Ovechkin can’t do it all.

The captain’s six goals lead the club; Mikhail Grabovski is second with three; nobody else has more than one.

Not to mention, Grabovski — essentially Ribeiro’s replacement — got all three of his goals in the season-opener and has been held to just two assists in the six games since.

The Caps could really use guys like Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich, Troy Brouwer and Mike Green to put some pucks in the net.

3. It’s not about to get any easier.

The Caps host Columbus Saturday then head out on a five-game trip to Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Philadelphia.

No, those some of those teams they’ll play on the trip aren’t the best, but road games are road games and that’s a lot of miles they’ll have to travel.

Where will the Caps be in the standings when they get back? Seven games in — including five home games — they’re already in a hole.

  1. joey4id - Oct 17, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    Yep! Definitely! With respect to their makeup they are having one of the worst start of the season. There are some unhappy players in that dressing room, and it’s unclear who will standup and clean up the mess.

    • blomfeld - Oct 17, 2013 at 11:16 PM

      Unclear ?

      With all due respect friend, this is exactly the time when a ‘true’ leader stands up, rallies his comrades and then personally leads them on ‘selflessly’ to redemption and glorious victory ! The Capitals are a quality organization and they’re deserving of so much more than what Ovechkin is offering. His captaincy is a failed enterprise in ‘no’ uncertain terms and the sooner they come to realize that, the better for this franchise and all it’s loyal fans.

      • joey4id - Oct 18, 2013 at 12:32 PM

        Yep! I’ve been commenting here for almost a year that they should trade crazy 8 before he decides to quit to join the KHL.

  2. stakex - Oct 17, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    Actually, I would say that schedule is pretty close to as easy as it gets. I mean maybe if you replaced the Vancouver game with a game against Buffalo, but you can’t have everything right?

    Jokes aside, the Caps problems are far deeper than most of their fans want to admit. They have bled talent over the last couple years, and lack any sort of secondary scoring chance. Just watch the game last night…. the Rangers shadowed Ovechkin all night. They planted their top defensive pair on him, and cheated towards him on the PP to take him out of the picture. The Rangers, and other teams obviously, are able to do that because the Caps don’t have much firepower beyond Ovechkin. Shut him down, and you shut the Caps down.

    They have defense and goaltending issues as well, but right now the biggest problem the Caps have is GM McPhee’s decision to let both Semin and Ribeiro only to replace them with Grabovski…. who isn’t half the player.

  3. goodellisruiningtheleague - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    DC won’t ever see a championship especially with the Caps. They are miserable.

  4. vbcaps - Oct 17, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    DC sports teams are cursed. 1-4 redskins to start 2013 after making the playoffs, a hyped and solid looking “popular pick for deep playoff run by pundits” Washington nationals baseball team that chokes. I don’t like basketball but the wizards…

    Thumbs down if you want but I’m a life time dc sports fan and besides the skins in the early 90s, DC is as championship dry as you can be

  5. capsfan19 - Oct 17, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    This is frustrating. Very frustrating. I knew, i just knew we were going to drop that game to the rags. It always fits the bill for the caps “next game hosting a team in free-fall, terrible form… And the caps get shut out on home ice”.
    Ive been sayin it for years, ovi is no team captain. When the team is in a slump we need somebody thats going to get everyone going. Not just go out their and play, we need real leadership. And i rest the problems on d because holtby was great last night.

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