Capitals Game Day
Vibe Check: Rough Go In Toronto Raises Concern For Capitals
It was not a good time for the Washington Capitals in Toronto. Here’s a vibe check after a 5-1 loss to the Maple Leafs and what it means concern-wise.
The Washington Capitals are not in a great spot, and their 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs reiterated the situation that the team is currently in.
Washington fell to 26-20-6, which when combining the regulation and OT defeats means that they've dropped half of their games so far this season. Points percentage-wise, the Capitals are at .558, and the safety net that they had for a playoff spot is thinning, as the Pittsburgh Penguins are just a point behind while the Buffalo Sabres, who have three games in hand, are two behind. Then there are the New York Islanders, lurking with 55 points.
There are still 30 games left on the schedule, and a must-win — and should win — against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday before the team is off for the All-Star Break. But starting now is the time for urgency, simplicity and structure from the club.
In Sunday's tilt, there were one too many turnovers and odd-man rushes. The backchecking was far from impressive, as was the defensive performance and holes in coverage that led to some easy goals for the Maple Leafs and left Darcy Kuemper out to dry. Kuemper has been pulled twice over his last four starts, but he shouldn't take all of the blame as he had no chance on a couple of those strikes.
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Charlie Lindgren was a bright spot, though, as he made some ten-bell stops to at least give his club a chance to get back in it. Still, Washington couldn't recover from the five goals against, and went 1-for-4 on the power play. And, when the Capitals did turn up the urgency, it was too late.
After such a strong outing and convincing showing on Thursday, where D.C. controlled the tempo for the majority of the game, Washington was expected to come in and battle hard. And while there were some tough breaks, that second-period collapse raised some concerns as the team fell into old habits that it left behind for a bit back in December.
Right now, the vibes aren't great. Maybe a 1/10 since Lindgren had a couple of big stops and Nicklas Backstrom got his first of the season. But otherwise, there's a little bit of concern if things continue to trend in this direction, as the Capitals have now dropped four of the last six and are an underwhelming 4-6 over the last 10 games. And of course, the team is still missing Tom Wilson and Nic Dowd as they recover from lower-body injuries, and John Carlson remains out long-term.
Still, there's plenty of time left, and a lot of good can come from the other side after time to reset and regroup.