As you can imagine, Happy Meals were not on the lunch menu at the Capitals’ practice facility on Wednesday.
The morning after their 5-0 loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, Adam Oates broke out the game video and a wave of negativity filled the room.
In a post-practice press conference than lasted 17 minutes, Oates voiced his displeasure with his players’ individual efforts Tuesday night, calling out Alex Ovechkin on one of Dallas’ goals and Mike Green relaxing on another.
“Ovi quit on the play, coming back,” Oates said, referring to the Stars’ fourth goal midway through the third period, when Ovechkin coasted through the neutral zone, allowing Alex Chaisson to use a burst of speed to fly past him and feed Dustin Jeffrey for his second goal of the night. “It just goes to show you gotta hustle the whole time. The whole, entire time.”
Ovechkin has now gone 16 straight games without an even-strength goal, the longest drought of his career, and he is a minus-19 during that time, dropping him to an NHL-worst minus-36.
Oates said he can accept mistakes from his young players but is far less tolerant when his veterans make the mistakes he’s seeing.
“It makes it very hard,” he said. “How do you talk about those mistakes and not wear them out mentally and physically?
“It’s the school of hard knocks. I made them. I can’t be a hypocrite, I made them. I’d like to think I leaned from them. We’re here to teach. Veterans, you treat them a different way, young guys you teach.”
Oates said there have been times he has verbally scolded his team this season, saying he did so between periods of the Caps’ home loss to the Boston Bruins over the weekend. But he’s not a fan of screaming at players to get their attention.
“I don’t see Bill Belichick yell. Now that doesn’t mean he can’t yell with his eyes or his face or his mood. That’s all part of respect. Nothing is more embarrassing than the video. That’s your yelling.
“Every day you show some negative that’s humbling, and we show some positive, and we pick different guys. That goes from the captain to the youngest guy. But [yelling] doesn’t change winning from losing.”
Oates said Green, who was a minus-3 Tuesday night and is now a minus-15 for the season, relaxed on the goal that gave the Stars a 2-0 lead 9:16 into the second period Tuesday night. Thirty-four seconds later the Stars made 3-0 and Oates said his team took on a different personality.
“It was like we didn’t know who we were,” Oates said, later adding. “I don’t think there was a want and a will after their second goal.”