The Washington Capitals had started the season rather slow before getting before the end of the calendar year. Taking them from the outside looking in to at least in the picture as far as playoff contention goes. The Caps lost their first game of December before winning eight of their next 12 games. They kept that momentum going to start the new year as well, winning six of their last 12 games including two three game win streaks.
Even though Washington has lost their last two games, they still sit third in the Metropolitan Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. After dealing with an emotional loss in Nashville against one of the best teams in the league and the former home of head coach Barry Trotz. Trotz spent 15 years coaching the Predators, that emotional toll was apparent the following night as the Capitals fell behind early against the Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars. Washington did rally to tie the game at one point at three a piece, but the Stars scored twice in 16 seconds to put the game out of reach, winning 5-3. It must also be mentioned that the second of those two losses came with Braden Holtby on the bench, he was given the night off.
Holtby has been outstanding in net during that stretch, Niklas Backstrom also deserves credit for his play. Backstrom has done a wonderful job creating for his teammates, with a great half of his team leading 32 assists coming in power play opportunities. The ‘great 8’ aka Alex Ovechkin has had himself a season as well, he scored his 25th goal of the season against the Stars with a beautiful move on a breakaway, getting the goalie to give up the near post with a great deke. Ovi also has 16 assists this season, Washington has also got some contributions from their younger players.
There is a trio of youngsters that have not only stepped in to provide some depth, but have stepped up to make key plays in games. Tom Wilson, Egveny Kuznetsov, and Andre Burakovsky have combined for 12 goals and 29 assists and none of them have played in every game this season.
Washington must rebound from their two game slides and take a page from their basketball playing brethern by taking care of business tomorrow night against a subpar team. The Edmonton Oilers come to town boasting an 11-26 record, but that won’t matter if the Caps continue their most recent trend of falling behind early in games. The have been down two goals entering the second period in both of their recent losses. That trend must end if the Capitals wish to get back on track, they have to be the aggressors as soon as the puck drops. Against both Nashville and Dallas, the opponents spent the majority of the first period in the Washington’s end. That changed as the Capitals began to rally, but they have to start games with the same fire in which they attempted to rally.
They’ve worked far too hard to get back to .500, then into the playoff picture to start sliding now. The Capitals take on the Oilers tomorrow night at 7pm Eastern at the Verizon Center.