Caps GM: ‘We’re not gonna blow anything up’

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Last night in Pittsburgh, the Washington Capitals were beaten badly in a game that left captain Alex Ovechkin disgusted and his teammates bemoaning their lack of mental fortitude.

The loss dropped the Caps’ record to 2-8-1, the worst mark in the NHL.

So this morning, general manager George McPhee met with reporters to try and explain how it’s all gone so very wrong.

One issue McPhee repeatedly addressed was discipline. The Caps have been shorthanded 51 times in 11 games, surrendering 15 power-play goals in the process. Their penalty kill (70.6%) is ranked 27th out of 30 teams.

“We’re playing a good game and then we start taking penalties, and we take them in bunches,” said McPhee. “No system, no coach, no team can survive that.”

Another problem spot has been between the pipes.

“Goaltenders have to be better,” said McPhee.

Though 11 games, Michal Neuvirth, 24, and Braden Holtby, 23, have combined for a .875 save percentage, the fourth lowest in the league.

Of course, it was McPhee who rolled the dice on a tandem that included one goalie (Neuvirth) that had never established himself as a reliable NHL starter and another (Holtby) that may have played extremely well in last year’s playoffs, but also started the 2011-12 season in the AHL and isn’t far removed from back-stopping the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL.

“Right now, it’s not going the way they had hoped, (but) it doesn’t mean it won’t,” said McPhee.

“I’ve seen young goaltenders win Cups in this league. I’ve seen young goaltenders come in and play really well.

“They have a lot of experience. For young goalies, they’ve played a lot in [the AHL], and they’re getting games here.”

McPhee offered strong support for new head coach Adam Oates — “I really like the coaches, I love what they’re doing” — and said he’s spoken with ownership in the past few days about ways to improve.

“If there’s something I can do to make the club better, I will,” he said.

“We’re not going to do anything short-term. We’re not going to blow anything up.”