The Washington Capitals have a problem with penalties.
They’ve taken 76 minors this season and boast the league’s seventh-worst penalty kill, at 76.1 percent.
While those two figures don’t fully explain Washington’s woeful record — 5-10-1, dead last in the NHL — they do explain a good part of it.
Just ask head coach Adam Oates.
“How many times are we going to have this conversation? It’s on us,” Oates told the Washington Post after Thursday’s 3-2 loss to New Jersey, in which the Caps were whistled for six minors in the third period.
“We talked about it at the end of the second period. They were yelling at the end of one of the calls we got in the second period. We talked about being disciplined and playing, watching our sticks.
“One of them or two you might question, but we still had too many penalties.”
For a detailed breakdown on what’s exactly ailing the Caps — penalty-wise — here’s CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley:
Of the 76 minor penalties the Caps have taken this season, 12 have been for interference; 12 for tripping; 11 for holding; eight for shooting the puck over the glass; seven for hooking; six for roughing; five for high sticking; five for boarding; three for unsportsmanlike conduct; two for crosschecking; two for slashing; one for embellishment and one for concealing the puck.
“It could be [fatigue] at the end of a shift, it could be lost focus; it could be any number of things,” Oates said. “It could be a temper, it could be [bad] habits. …You’re not going to win giving the other team more power plays every night. You’re not.”
What’s odd is that, historically speaking, Washington hasn’t really ever had major issues with penalties. The Caps had the 10th-fewest minors called against them last year and the sixth-fewest total penalty minutes.
Oates said it’s a disturbing trend, but that the Caps have nobody to blame but themselves — especially not in last night’s third period.
“You can’t blame the refs for six [penalties],” he said. “You can’t. That’s on us.”