When Dale Hunter took over as Capitals coach, he knew his greatest challenge would be getting Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin to play the same way as Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera.
But if youve been reading between the lines this season, its hard to ignore the references players make about everyone playing the game the same way.
Heres what Karl Alzner said after the Caps 2-1 loss in Colorado Saturday night, and tell me if you hear the same message I hear.
I think, from my point of view, we went back to making the dumb, little mistakes that we weren't doing the last game, at least, Alzner said. We weren't just chipping pucks in and then getting in on the forecheck. We were trying to make plays at the offensive blue line.
We didn't get pucks out very well from our zone, but their D did a good job pinching in and I don't think we used the guys on the ice. I think a lot of times we were doing things on our own. And that's what we were doing when we were losing all our games and we got back to it again Saturday night.
Loosely translated, I hear this: Ovechkin and Semin have exceptional talent, but if opposing defenses are standing them up at the blue line, they need to dump the puck in and retrieve it instead of trying to make plays at the blue line and running the risk of turning the puck over.
That, in a nutshell, is Dale Hunters system, affectionately known to hockey old-timers as the KISS system: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Asked about the Capitals inability to create offense in the third period of Saturday nights loss, Alzner offered this evaluation:
Those are the times when we tell each other, Just keep it simple, and for whatever reason sometimes we go out there and we don't do it, he said. To get off this roller-coaster ride, its about doing the same thing. We've got to be methodical and work hard. You see the teams that do that are usually the ones that are successful. That's what we're not doing enough of.