Last season the Washington Capitals seemed to buy was coach Adam Oates was selling.
After a rough start, they embraced his offensive and defensive philosophies and became a serious Eastern Conference threat. Expectations were high for this season, especially after skilled forward Mikhail Grabovski arrived as a free agent.
But this season they lost focus again. Goaltender Braden Holtby struggled mightily, winger Alex Ovechkin quit checking again and winger Martin Erat lost interest altogether.
“Look what’s happening, look at our results. It’s the same mistakes mostly by veteran guys we can’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” Oates told reporters after a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils. “You play a decent game, it was a hard fought game, but we got behind and we couldn’t catch up.”
Injuries only made things worse. Ovechkin suffered a strained groin muscle and Grabovski suffered a leg injury after colliding with Devils captain defenseman Bryce Salvador.
Here are some specifics of Washington's deepening slump:
- Their loss at New Jersey was their seventh in a row. They were 0-5-2 in that span. This is their worst streak since 2010.
- They went recently went 149 minutes and 11 seconds without scoring a goal.
- Opponents have outscored them 17-6 in their last five games.
- Their penalty-killing ranks 21st in the league. The Capitals were shorthanded at least four times in each of their last four games.
- They have four games remaining on this tough five-game road trip.
Jason Chimera wonders when his team will draw the line and stop losing.
“It’s one of those things that you should come to the game and play with that desperation and throw everything at [the net], get a 50-shot night or a 55-shot night and hopefully two or three will go in,” he told NHL.com. “If desperation doesn’t set in, then we’re in trouble that’s for sure.”
News flash for Jason: The Capitals are already in trouble.