Accountability...not so much
I've heard and read encouraging signs from the Caps this young season that they're taking more accountability as they try to overcome their history of playoff debacles. Things like no more optional practices, practices that last longer than 30-minutes, admitting they need to play 60-minutes of hockey, and no more post-game quotes about "hot goalie" excuses. The Caps must not think accountability counts when they play West Coast teams (or the New York Islanders) or their struggles against these teams happen for some other reason. It's certainly not a lack of talent. So what is it? It is accountability and the Caps, all of them, aren't playing like they give a damn when they're on the ice. Mike Knuble's quote tonight, "Of late, I don't know if we're all committed" tells me everything I need to know about this team.
The Dallas Stars whipped the Caps 5-2 in a pathetic display of hockey, by the Caps, at least. Your Washington Capitals did not even show up for tonight's game. The Caps have played one complete game, against the Carolina Hurricanes which the Caps won 5-1, in their last six games. Do you think this style of play will get them very far in the playoffs? Nope, it will get them another first or second round playoff exit, assuming, of course, they make the playoffs since nothing is guaranteed.
So what is so awful about the Caps playing right now - here are some examples:
- Battles along the boards - the Caps rarely win those. Stanley Cup winners win those battles more often than they lose them.
- Getting out of their defensive zone and through the neutral zone - a theme I've discussed before, but if the Caps can't transition without the often injured Mike Green they're toast.
- Passing - I can't begin to count how many times I've seen a Caps player pass the puck into the feet of their teammates. This is a problem that has been going on for years. I've never seen the Caps consistently execute tape-to-tape passes, like other teams do, and like the Anaheim Ducks showed the night they visited the phone booth.
- Playing the puck instead of the body - in the defensive zone, the Caps constantly look for the puck or try to play the puck instead of pushing the body out of the way. This gets them into goal trouble often.
- Third period goals - the Caps gave up three 3rd period goals playing against the Islanders, Vancouver and Dallas in their last five games. That's atrocious.
I don't expect the Caps to "bring it" 60-minutes for all 82 regular season hockey games as I know that's unrealistic. It's a long season. But, I expect them to act like they're playing hockey and they haven't done that very well in 5 out of their past 6 games.
Let's see if they play better in their home/away series against the New Jersey Devils this weekend.
Let's go Caps!