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What Super Bowl Sunday Loss Means For Capitals’ Trade Deadline Plans

The Washington Capitals looked lackluster on Super Bowl Sunday. What does it mean for their trade deadline plans?



WASHINGTON — After a stunning win over the league-best Boston Bruins to open their return from the All-Star Break, the Washington Capitals made a statement and had a victory they could build off of and carry momentum from down the stretch. Just 22 hours later, though, things would go south against the San Jose Sharks, who sit second-to-last in the Pacific Division.

The quick turnaround did the Capitals no favours, but ultimately, it was a lackluster and disinterested performance that led to a "disappointing" 4-1 loss to the Sharks at home on Super Bowl Sunday.

"I think you're more tired on the second game of a back-to-back but you know, every team goes through it," goaltender Charlie Lindgren, who added that surrendering the first goal of the game just 2:45 minutes in didn't help his team's position, said. "So I don't think there's any room for excuses, including myself. And you know, I think we all got to look in the mirror and we all probably got to say we got to be a little bit better."

Sunday's loss also exposed several issues surrounding Washington with the trade deadline just weeks away.

While the team was fatigued and lacking energy down the lineup, there was little chemistry on offense, as the lines got jumbled around and couldn't generate any spark except for Evgeny Kuznetsov's lone goal in the second. It was a quiet night for Alex Ovechkin, who had just one shot, and top-6 forwards Dylan Strome and Sonny Milano ended up sitting for the majority of the second period. Anthony Mantha also did not play due to illness. In addition, the power play failed to get much going — albeit it was up against one of the best penalty kills in the league on Sunday — and has been struggling for quite a bit of time. And, with John Carlson's return still "off in the distance," the power play is going to continue to operate without its main quarterback.

READ MORE ON WHN: Washington Capitals Rip Sunday Performance: 'Gotta Look In The Mirror & Say We Gotta Be Better'

Defensively, the team didn't impress, as the play in front of Lindgren wasn't sharp by any means. Washington also lost key neutral zone battles and let San Jose take over for quite a bit of time.

"[Lindgren] probably would like another chance at that first one, [but] he made plenty of saves along the way [behind] a team that wasn't playing very well in front of him," head coach Peter Laviolette said. "Where I thought he needed to be better, he made saves and kept it a closer game, so he gave us a chance to push."

Taking all of that into account, Sunday's defeat definitely spoke volumes regarding areas that could be addressed, as the team needs another puck-moving defenseman who can eat big minutes and play a special teams role, as well as more secondary scoring support, especially if Nic Dowd and Tom Wilson are out longer. There are a number of pending free agents that need to be addressed, too, with five forwards and seven defensemen set to become RFAs or UFAs when the season ends.

"There's so many free agents here, it's a lot going on," Conor Sheary said. "You never know what's going to happen, but at the same time, with the players that are in this room, you got to just buy in every night. Twenty-five or so games left and we're pushing towards playoffs, and we want to stick together as a group."

Given the ongoing injury situation and other questions surrounding the lineup, general manager Brian MacLellan has hinted that the team's trade deadline plans could be very last-minute and depend on factors that come down to the wire. As for Sunday's loss, it did raise glaring issues, but due to the team coming off a strong game in Boston beforehand and the fatigue that comes with returning home and playing another afternoon game less than a day later, Washington hopes that this is a one-off, meaning that it won't necessarily impact the course of things. However, it raises flags, and if the downward trend continues, it'll be time to make some moves at the deadline.

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