The Washington Capitals don’t need wins at this point, but it’s still troubling that they’re not getting them.
They’ve dropped three straight games for the first time this season and while they battled Pittsburgh to overtime last night, Capitals coach Barry Trotz wasn’t happy with what he saw.
“Way too much cheat in our game, not enough detail and not enough work,” Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “You can’t go around games, you gotta go through them and we didn’t go through them early.”
The issue is, if the Capitals get sloppy with their game now, can they simply reverse that with the snap of a finger in Game 1 of the playoffs? Or will those bad habits be harder than that to break, especially against a team that had to claw its way into the first round while Washington played in games that were largely meaningless to them.
Trotz remains optimistic, but he warned his players that once the postseason starts, there won’t be time to wait for players to get going and those that struggle out of the gate will be in danger of dropping in the depth charts, per the Washington Post.
This all is happening with the backdrop of a bigger story that’s being playing out in Washington for years. There was a time not so long ago that the Capitals were regarded as a regular season team that simply couldn’t deliver in the playoffs. This will be the eighth time in nine seasons that Washington has advanced to the postseason and their sixth division win (albeit with most of that predating the realignment), but they haven’t advanced past the second round over that stretch.
The hope is that with new management, a largely different core outside of Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, and Trotz guiding the way, things are different in Washington now. It will be hard to make that argument though if the Capitals fall flat in the playoffs after winning the Presidents’ Trophy.