You can probably guess my age by now simply by the title reference but the Talking Heads’ song “Road to Nowhere” should be adopted as the Washington Capitals’ theme song this season. How can a team who made the Stanley Cup playoffs last season simply be a listless, meandering franchise playing simply for nightly paychecks this year?
It’s not as though the season is close to being over– this season still has over 75% of regular season games to go. Go ahead and insert excuses or rationalizations here why the Caps look and play like a “bottom feeder” team. They’re 7-9-3 and just dropped a three game road trip like a hot potato burning their hands.
Can we even begin to explain why the Caps are fading fast?
It’s not even Thanksgiving yet and if the NHL season ended tonight, the Capitals would be watching the playoffs at home or at somewhere like Buffalo Wild Wings. Alex Ovechkin, the “Great Eight” is still with the team and at his advanced age is still the Caps’ leading point producer with nine goals and eight assists so far. I love Alex Ovechkin and he’s got his spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame already reserved but when Grandfather Frost is your leading scorer, things are heading south into the NHL Hades really quick.
The Capitals are at times a really good team for 40 minutes but come up short in the goal category. With this in mind, a team that’s good for 20 to 40 minutes but not the regulation 60 isn’t a good team but a franchise flopping around like a fish out of water looking for oxygen to breathe. This team plays with little energy at time albeit they did fight back on Thursday night in St. Louis versus the Blues –only to lose in a shootout.
Let’s take a look at at some sobering numbers to try and explain this train wreck we call the Washington Capitals: (statistics courtesey of Russianmachineneverbreaks.com)
Seven – the number of times in 19 games that the Capitals have given up three or more goals in one period. On Thursday night, the Caps gave up three goals in the very first period against the Blues.
24th- the Capitals have a power play conversion rate of 19.4% and rank 24th in the NHL right now. On the road, the Caps have an even weaker 12.5% man advantage conversion rate which is the second worst in the NHL.
5th – the Caps have a 2-6-2 road record which is the fifth worst in the NHL.
These numbers don’t lie and only reinforce the fact that the Capitals need to find themselves and their sense of purpose right now or they’re facing a long winter and early spring likely dwelling at the very bottom of the Metropolitan Division. If a regulation hockey game is 60 minutes, play with a sens of urgency and desperation for 60 minutes and not just for 20 or 40 minutes.
On Thursday night, the Caps worn out Thomas Greiss as he tried his best to defend the pipes for the Blues. Play like that every minute of every game and this ship may be saved before it gets hit with one more torpedo.