Inconsistency Holding Washington Capitals Back


Nov 20, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (70) during the second period against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals put the worries of their five-game losing streak to rest when they won three straight, including a road win at Chicago.

But then, Barry Trotz’s team followed that winning streak up with a two-game losing streak, including a 4-1 thumping by the St. Louis Blues.

To continue the pattern of streaky play, Washington then went on to win two straight road games in Arizona and Colorado before falling at home to the 6-13-2 Buffalo Sabres Saturday night.

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And if that isn’t inconsistent in itself, Saturday’s loss saw the Capitals outshoot the Sabres by 18 in a game where they topped the 40-shot mark for the first time this season. Yet, the Caps only managed to net one goal.

The loss was frustrating for anyone cheering for the Capitals, and Trotz said after the game that the team needs to be hungrier around the net when shots are flying.

What Trotz said ties into Washington’s struggles in the third period while trailing.

After Saturday night’s loss – when the Capitals entered the third period down 1-0 – Washington is now 0-3-1 when trailing heading into the final period of play, according to Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post. Only nine other teams in the NHL can say that.

While a lack of offensive production can be to blame – nobody on the team has scored over nine goals – defensive breakdowns are also to blame.

In eight of Washington’s 11 losses, the Capitals have given up at least three goals. In fact, Washington has just one win when its opponent scores at least three goals.

But Braden Holtby isn’t to blame. He has a .915 save percentage while giving up just over two goals per game.

Turnovers have hurt the Capitals many times this season, leading to odd-man rushes in favor of the opponent. And many of these turnovers have come from some of Washington’s best players. Alex Ovechkin is -6 in turnover margin. John Carlson is -5, Mike Green is -4 and Brooks Orpik is -10, according to

In order for the Washington Capitals to climb back to the top of the standings, they need to finish at the net and limit the turnovers. Players like Jasom Chimera, Karl Alzner and Troy Brouwer also need to get more involved offensively.

There’s a strong chance that Brooks Laich finally returns on Wednesday against the Islanders, which should give the team a boost.

Washington’s next two games provide a chance to climb up in the division, as they play a home-and-home with the New York Islanders, who sit at 14-6 on the season and in second in the Metropolitan Division with 28 points. The Capitals sit in fourth with 21 points, just one behind the New York Rangers.

The Capitals will travel to New York on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. start before returning home to face the Islanders on Friday at 5 p.m.