Capitals Frustrated, Face Ugly Truth About Struggles: ‘We Haven’t Been Ourselves’
Nicklas Backstrom and the Washington Capitals were open and honest about what’s been going wrong on a recent stretch that has seen them drop three of the last four decisions.
WASHINGTON — Following a 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom stood in the locker room and delivered somewhat of an ugly truth:
"The last two games, we haven't been ourselves."
The Swede said he's starting to get more comfortable with each game that goes by, but ultimately, he and the team aren't doing enough to get the results they want and that things have to improve with the team dropping three of its last four contests.
"That's something we have to change," he noted.
While Washington saw things pick up offensively on Saturday with 40 shots in the 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Capitals wanted several of those chances back and said that it'll only lead to a win if they put it in the net. Washington's lone goal came from Alex Ovechkin on a rebound off his own shot. Other than that, Carter Hart stood tall with 39 saves, and the Capitals went 0-for-3 on the power play.
"The greasy ones are nice, the rebound ones, work harder on those, but I feel like we're getting to the offensive zone but when we're there, that's when we got to make the next play. And we haven't been doing that," Backstrom added.
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Over the last four games, Washington is 1-3-0 and has been outscored 11-7. The power play has been silent for four straight games and is 0-for-9 over this span, despite having the likes of Backstrom and Tom Wilson in the mix again on both units. Also, more times than not, the Capitals have been held to the exterior and haven't gotten much chemistry going on the forecheck, which in turn has led to odd-man rushes against, turnovers or one too many passes.
The drop in performance comes at less than an ideal time, as Washington, who rocketed back up the standings following a red-hot December, has taken a step back and now sits in the second Wild Card spot, with the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins now within four points of them.
While the Capitals aren't pressing the panic button, they said that hope to turn thing around quickly to avoid reverting back to where they were at the beginning of the year.
"There's no panic. It's maybe a little bit of frustration," Wilson, who returned from ACL surgery three games ago, said. "No one likes losing obviously. So when we're not winning games, we want to turn it around and we want to fix it, especially when you're playing divisional opponents."
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Washington is in for a tough back-to-back to open the week, as the team visits the Islanders on Monday before taking on the Minnesota Wild at home on Tuesday. That's where the mindset has shifted, as Darcy Kuemper and the team know it'll be two of the biggest games of the year.
"Losing always sucks, these ones don't feel good, that's for sure," Kuemper said, adding, "I don't think it's anything to worry about. Obviously losing two in a row to the same team doesn't sit well with us, but we've got two big back-to-back [games] coming up and that's gotta be our focus."