Caps need ‘better effort from the top guys,’ says one of their top guys

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The Washington Capitals may have won four of their last five and put themselves right back in the playoff picture, but not all of them are satisfied with how they’re playing.

“I think something that the first two lines need to do is look at our third line,” center Nicklas Backstrom said, per the Washington Post.

“They’re cycling the puck, and off that they create chances. I think our first lines haven’t been doing that, not the whole year. That’s something we need to do. We’ve been talking about it but we need a better effort from the top guys for sure.”

In a related story, CSN Washington notes that the Caps have been winning despite a lack of goals from one Alex Ovechkin, who has just three tallies — all of them on the power play — in his last 11 games.

No doubt, some of that has to do with coach Adam Oates’ decision to move grinding center Jay Beagle — he of the 14 career assists — onto Ovechkin’s line.

But there was a reason Oates did that:

Before he was united with Beagle, Ovechkin was a minus player in nine straight games for a combined minus-14. In his last three games he’s been even on the plus-minus sheet, which means he’s not watching other teams score, a problem evidenced by his minus-31 rating.

The Caps host Los Angeles tonight before welcoming the Bruins to town Saturday.

With Toronto in collapse mode, Columbus treading water, and Detroit still badly banged up, there’s renewed optimism in DC, regardless of how the wins are being earned.