Caps critical of their own effort
WASHINGTON – Judging from the comments made following the Capitals’ 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night, maybe there should be mirrors installed inside the home locker room at VerizonCenter.
There were a lot of angry words coming from the Capitals after their fourth and most lopsided loss of the season.
As usual, Troy Brouwer was the most direct with his criticism.
"It's about wanting to win,” said Brouwer, who briefly replaced Alex Ovechkin [six shots, minus-3] on the top line. “That's all it comes down to. Our talent level's there. Our effort's not.
“We're in a tough division. We're going to be hard-pressed to make the playoffs if we continue on the path we're on now.”
Brouwer was not alone in admonishing his teammates, who have scored just four goals in their last three games, all losses.
Martin Erat also questioned the Caps’ work ethic.
“You’re on the ice for 35 to 40 seconds and play as hard as you can,” he said. “It’s about the hard work.”
Jason Chimera was beating the same drum.
“When you’re struggling, hard work beats anything,” he said. “I’m surprised with the team we have where we are. You need to look at yourself in the mirror. It starts with you.”
But it might have been Eric Fehr, the Caps’ lone goal scorer, who hit the nail on the head.
“We were too soft,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of skill, but we’ve got to put that aside and start working a lot harder so our skill can take over.”
Perhaps it’s all those years of playing or his ability to analyze without his emotions getting in the way, but Capitals coach Adam Oates saw Saturday night’s blowout differently.
In his opinion, goaltending might have been the difference in the game.
In his first game against the Caps since being traded to Colorado in 2011, Semyon Varlamov was fantabulous, stopping 40 of 41 shots for his fourth straight victory.
Varlamov has allowed one goal in each of his victories this season.
“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.”
Oates said a few players are snakebit and the mistakes the Caps are making are ending up in the back of the net. Neuvirth struggled in his first start of the season, stopping just 23 of 28 shots.
‘I’m sure there’s one or two Neuvy wants back,” he said. “But he hasn’t played so in fairness to him he’s got to get his chance.”
Ovechkin saw 17:19 of ice time, recorded six shots, had five more blocked, and dished out three hits But along with linemate Nicklas Backstrom he was a minus-3, including a shorthanded goal by Alex Tanguay,
Oates said his decision to replace Ovechkin with Brouwer on the top line was to “shake it up.”
“I was looking for a spark, trying to get Brouwer a goal,” Oates said.
Asked if there will be line changes at practice on Sunday Oates said he’s already discussed the idea with his staff.
“We talked about it already,” he said. “I asked the coaches to think about it.”