Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals were shut out by Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators, in front of a sparse crowd — partly due to the snowstorm, but certainly attributable to their performance as well. Folks came out during Snowmaggedon.
It was the team’s sixth straight loss, the last four of which have come in regulation. Things get even worse, as the Caps now head out on a five game road trip.
The Caps have won twice since Dec. 29.
The Capitals were in a similar situation last season. They started the lockout-truncated campaign miserably, until Alex Ovechkin got hot and carried his team to the playoffs. Last year, even though the beginning of the season looked so bleak, you figured if the Caps could grasp what Adam Oates was trying to implement and get on a run they’d have a shot at turning their season around. That’s exactly what happened.
This year? The feeling isn’t the same.
Tuesday’s performance was completely lackluster for a team on a 5-game losing streak playing its only home game out of nine. They were shut out, shut down, and shut off. The lack of interest from too many of the Capitals was galling.
This organization is due a major shake-up.
Does that mean trading a veteran player and taking salary back to offset the cost? Does that mean firing the coach, who’s only been here a little over a full season’s worth of games? Does that mean going higher up the chain and firing 15-year general manager George McPhee?
One of the problems is that there’s no external pressure from the professional media. There’s no critical analysis of the team in either of the daily papers or on any of the broadcast news stations. And there certainly isn’t any coming from the rightsholder on cable.
If this were Toronto or Boston or Detroit — shoot, even Philly — the Caps would be getting roasted on a nightly basis in the papers, putting pressure on the franchise to activate change where it so obviously is needed.
But in D.C., the media outlets are too agog about the Redskins hiring Jay Gruden, or what RGIII had for lunch or posted on Twitter, to even realize that the only team in town that has been a consistent playoff team the past eight years is dangerously close to not qualifying this year.
Nope. It’s just us “bloggers” left shouting in the wind. And there’s only a handful of us around anymore either.
Maybe that’s what it will take for change, the Caps actually missing the playoffs. Can you imagine? A team with Olympians Alex Ovechkin (leading the planet in goal scoring), Nick Backstrom and John Carlson, plus two-time Norris Trophy candidate Mike Green failing to qualify for the playoffs?
It’s staring us right in the face. Those that follow the team on a daily basis know it. The fans that watch this team night-in and night-out know it. It’s the same talk and not enough action.
Ovechkin said it best after losing to the Rangers Sunday night.
“What am I going to say? ‘Wake up everybody’ Or something like that? We say too much, go out there and do it,” Ovechkin said. “We can be good speaker but you have to show it on the ice.”
Except, they haven’t shown it on the ice, especially over the past month.
They are currently in sixth place in the division, 2-5-3 in their last 10 games. There have been confusing player personnel moves all season long. Three players have requested trades from the organization, yet are still in the lineup. There are a couple of 19-year-olds that should be playing at lower levels, jeopardizing their futures. They carried three goalies for a month. They are one of the worst teams at 5v5 in the league. They have two players on pace for 20+ goal seasons, and one of them has scored one goal in the last 10 games.
Maybe missing the playoffs is what this organization needs.