Each time the Capitals seem to find their footing this season, a reminder that they’re not yet fully on track is always close behind. This week after two thorough victories against New Jersey and Carolina, the Capitals had their letdown game in Philadelphia.
Sure, fatigue was a factor, as players and Coach Adam Oates pointed out, but Washington’s inability to snap out of its funk Wednesday included familiar bad habits.
From trying to stick-handle through the neutral zone against three or more opponents at any one time, failing to clear the zone with force, a lack of puck support and precious little cycle work to speak of, the Capitals played nothing like the way they had been playing recently. For every few steps forward, it seems like Washington takes another step back – or at least stops its own momentum cold.
“It sure seems like that. Hopefully that’s not the way it continues to go but that does seem to be the trend,” Karl Alzner said. “Definitely want to stop that right away. I think we’re still not where we want to be completely but we’re getting back there. Not a good loss [Wednesday] but hopefully it doesn’t set us back more than one game.”
Goaltender Braden Holtby, who was pulled for the first time in his NHL career after allowing four goals on 18 shots to the Flyers, said he didn’t believe that this was a sign of true regression.
“I think it’s only a step back if we lose our confidence, but I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Holtby said. “That’s the way it goes. If we didn’t have the start we had, I don’t think you’d be asking that question because that’s just the way a hockey season goes is you have a couple good games, and sometimes you let up for a bit. That’s just what’s happening right now.”
>> During the second intermission of Wednesday’s game, NBC Sports Network’s Mike Milbury ripped Alex Ovechkin’s effort and overall play. Criticizing Ovechkin is nothing new for Milbury but in this particular segment he reached new heights with his scathing indictment of the winger’s play.