Adam Oates is preaching patience. Sure he’s not happy that the Washington Capitals have only one win in their first four games. It’s not ideal the second line has yet to record a single point as a unit at even strength. And the lack of NHL experience in the bottom half of the defensive lineup has made for some growing pains.

But it’s not yet time to push the panic button the Capitals’ coach said after Washington suffered its third loss of the young season Thursday.

The Capitals are 1-3-0 as they prepare to host the undefeated Colorado Avalanche Saturday at Verizon Center but Oates isn’t shuffling the line combinations. He’s sticking to essentially the same lineup he’s leaned on since the opener — with a few exceptions because of injuries — confident that the Capitals need only to clean up their game rather than make significant changes.

“Obviously we want wins but I told the boys today we did a lot of good things” Oates said. “Our team is not a team that I think has problems scoring goals. We are right now but that’s not going to be our forte. Keep playing the way we’re playing. . . . That’s the message and if it means at some point we’ve got to shake it up I’ll shake it up. But I don’t think it’s a chemistry thing right now.”

That doesn’t change the fact that Troy Brouwer Brooks Laich Marcus Johansson Eric Fehr Joel Ward and Martin Erat still don’t have a goal. Or that despite creating consistent offensive chances against Carolina the Caps didn’t yield enough results.

There’s a benefit to allowing the lines time to find a groove but the Caps’ situation could be better.

“It’s good and bad” Brouwer said. “It’s good because it gives lines more time to try and work things out but it’s bad because if it’s not working it’s not working.”

There are similarities like untimely penalties but this isn’t the same type of slump that the Capitals dealt with last season. Through four games last year Washington was 0-3-1 having been outscored 17-8. This season the discrepancy is 15-12 overall and 12-5 at even strength.

The most critical difference though is that the Capitals are no longer learning the basics of a system. The breakdowns while still frustrating aren’t stemming from confusion in assignments but mistakes like turnovers that hem the Capitals in their own zone or prevent them from establishing a cycle offensively.