Capitals fall in wild loss to Ottawa
Four-game losing streaks can bring out the worst in a team and that seemed to be the case Wednesday night at Verizon Center following the Capitals’ 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators.
In one of his most animated post-game press conferences of the season, Capitals coach Adam Oates made an emotional plea for his players to change the way they are playing, because the message he’s delivering isn’t going to.
“I can’t change who I am,” Oates said after the Caps slipped from second in the Metropolitan Division to third. “I can’t change the way I approach it. I don’t have to yell at a guy, I can sit him out of the lineup.
“Yelling is irrelevant, that’s high school for me. If the guys don’t know we let one get away, shame on them. I’m going to tell them, but if they walk away and they’re not upset, then there’s nothing any coach can do to change that.”
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Harsh words from a coach who almost always finds the positive in games.
But Oates was just getting started. His most revealing moment in the post-game press conference came when he was asked about what happened after taking a 3-1 lead in the first period.
“You’re up 3-1 and maybe you think that it’s an easy night and all of a sudden they get the puck again,” Oates said. “We got the goals from doing the right things. We’ve got to be disciplined, even our fancy guys. Probably from the fancy guys first.”
It doesn’t take a private investigator to know which players to whom Oates was referring.
“Some [less-skilled] guys know they have no choice [but to dump the puck in deep],” Oates said. “The [skilled] guys with choices still gotta put it deep. We’ve got to teach it. We have no choice. We’re not going to win games playing this way. We just proved it.”
Oates received no argument inside the Capitals’ dressing room.
“We [were] a very good hockey team in the first period with 18 shots and three goals and did a lot of things right,” said Brooks Laoch, who scored one of those goals, his fourth of the season, on a backhander. “And for the rest of the game we [were] a very bad hockey team. Bad decisions, bad penalties, getting outworked. We looked very unstructured in the last 40 minutes.”
Before the game Oates stressed the importance of staying out of the penalty box. The Capitals took 38 minutes in penalties and gave the Senators six power plays and three power-play goals.
“Way too many penalties,” Oates said.
Defenseman Mike Green took three of those penalties – a pair of holding infractions in the first period and a hooking penalty in the second – and finished the game a minus-1.
“He’s a better player than that,” Oates said.
Oates said he’s hoping Wednesday night’s loss marinates with his players over the Thanksgiving holiday and turns the page on Friday when the Montreal Canadiens come to town for the second time in a week.
“We played a solid game in Toronto [Saturday] and played lousy tonight,” Oates said. “Lousy.”