Capitals Must Limit Defensive Errors to Win Games


Last night’s 4-3 defeat in Columbus marked the fourth straight loss for the Washington Capitals, dating back to Jan. 16 before the All-Star Break.

The Capitals’ losing streak is their longest since the club’s five-game streak that spanned from Oct. 26 to Nov. 04.

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And while members of the team, including Braden Hotlby, say that this losing streak is different from the one previously mentioned – citing that the team was still finding their way, whereas now they know what they should be doing – there is one key similarity between the two losing streaks: goals allowed.

During that early season stretch that saw Washington fall to Vancouver, Detroit, Tampa Bay, Arizona and Calgary, the Capitals allowed at least four goals per game.

After that, head coach Barry Trotz seemed to get his team back on track defensively, as they only gave up four or more goals six times over a time frame that spanned 26 games.

And during that span, the Caps earned at least one point in 18 of 20 games dating back to Dec. 02.

Whatever it was that Trotz said and was doing to his team while the Caps were one of the hottest teams in the NHL, he’ll have to say and do again. Over the current four-game losing streak, Washington has allowed at least four goals in every game (17 total) and they have all come in regulation.

And as Troy Brouwer pointed out to reporters after last night’s game, the team needs to get better with its communication in the defensive zone, so they know which player each teammate is marking.

It sounds easy and obvious, but a lack of communication on even one play can make the difference in a game.

Trotz and the Capitals will have their hands full trying to fix the defensive mistakes and getting back in the win column as their next three opponents (Pittsburgh, Montreal and St. Louis) have over 60 points each this season.

In Wednesday night’s game against the archrival Penguins, the Capitals will have to limit the lethal attack of Pittsburgh, led by who else but Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. And while there is still uncertainty at this time as to whether or not Crosby will miss the game with an injury, Pittsburgh still ranks sixth in the NHL in goals per game with three and equally in its power play percentage at .023.

Offensively, the Caps will need to create chances against the ninth ranked defense of the Penguins, but that hasn’t been the problem over the last four games as Washington has scored at least three goals in each game.

Washington is currently one point out of the playoffs behind the New York Rangers, and if the team can begin to play cohesive defense again, the Caps should be able to climb that hurdle. We’ve seen it before, now we just have to wait to see if Trotz can spark that magic again.