Caps say they're too good to be bubble team

Caps say they're too good to be bubble team
February 14, 2014, 1:00 pm
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Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Nashville Predators in the first period at Verizon Center.

(Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

The Capitals are hoping their current record is a mirage.

They are hoping they are better than 27-23-9 record they own and the 87 points with which they are projected to finish the season.

“We’re not a bubble team,” Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer said. “We’re a lot better hockey team than what we were showing.

“But because of that seven-game losing streak [0-5-2 from Jan. 12-24] now we are on the bubble and we have to battle our way back. It’s tough because the end of the season is loaded with divisional games.

“It makes it more exciting and it makes it more intense, but at the same time it makes it tougher to climb the standings.”

If the Capitals hope to get into the playoffs as one of the top three teams in the Metropolitan Division, they’ll probably need to beat the Flyers in back-to-back games March 2 and 5.

To do that, the Caps will need to play more consistent hockey than they played leading into the Olympics. So far this season, the Caps have strung together three or more wins just three times and have lost three or more in a row four times.

If the Caps finish this season at their current pace, they’ll finish with their lowest point total since 2006-07 when they finished 14th in the conference with 70 points.

In fact, since winning the Presidents’ Trophy with 121 points in 2009-10, the Caps’ point totals have fallen to 107, 92, a lockout shortened 57 [a 97-point projection] and they are on pace for 87 this season.

“We just have to stick together,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. “We can’t have one group and another group and another group. We have to be together and fight through it together.

“If it doesn’t happen we’re not going to make the playoffs and we’re not going to get success. But I know these guys a long time and I’m pretty sure we’re going to be fine. Everything is going to be all right.”

Brouwer said it all starts with the basics of making clean breakout passes from their own zone.

“We have to get more robotic in our passes and our execution,” he said. “It’s surprising we even have to address it in the NHL, but that’s the reality of it.

“We’ve got to do a better job. It starts in practice, making sure we’re crisp and not slowing guys down, so that when you get into a game you don’t have to think about making a 10-foot pass or a 12-foot pass, you just make the pass.”