Winning without pressure - Washington Capitals

Published: Apr 12, 2014 10:43am EDT
By Jeff Kryglik, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 12, 2014 @ 10:43am EDT

 

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks already knew their fates when the puck first dropped at Verizon Center in D.C. and it showed in what was a 4-0 victory for the home squad.

Washington looked like a team just looking to have fun and did just that for two periods as they coasted through the third with little to no major action. They know that they need to continue to play the game they love no matter what, despite disappointment from missing the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. 

It's a hard pill to swallow for some fans in D.C. as to why the Capitals couldn't string together wins when it mattered most.

Maybe, it's the players. Maybe, it's the coaches. Or maybe, the front office. 

Or, all of the above.

But, in looking at this Capitals team, it has come to back to two issues - one is something the organization can control, the other isn't. 

Washington once again didn't produce effectively on the defensive end as there was a revolving door of defenseman and interchangeable pairs outside of John Carlson and Karl Alzner throughout the entire season. While injuries can't be controlled, putting the right talent out their can be... and that's on general manager George McPhee. 

The other recurring issue surrounding this team and is the microcosm of the Capitals' failures is effort. Whether it's losing 50-50 puck battles along the boards or failing to make the extra effort on the backcheck to at least attempt to corral and deflect shots, those types of plays don't exist that often on the Capitals. 

And it starts at the top.

As much as Alexander Ovechkin is the reason for this team's success, his demeanor on the ice is also a contributor to his team's failures. It's not his play, talent or goal-scoring abilities. It's his will, effort and desire to make the game-changing play as the captain outside of trying to light up as many lamps as possible. 

Teams look to their captain as their main example of how they should conduct themselves as pros. Knowing that Ovechkin isn't the most aggressive two-way player, teams see that and capitalize on his and his teammates' mistakes. And Ovechkin's teammates somewhat follow the image he has molded.

That's something that can't be coached and ultimately out of head coach Adam Oates' control.

As nice as a 4-0 win over a playoff team like the Blackhawks is, they are in rest and recovery mode for the postseason, while the Capitals are just happy to be playing hockey.

A result like this should have been expected and isn't something to be overly impressed by. 


 

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