Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, 4:46 p.m.
By Ryan OHalloran
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When they endured an eight-game losing streak made more distracting by the prying eyes and ears of a film crew earlier this season, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau and his players said things couldnt get any worse.
They might have Saturday.
Before embarking on a season-long, nine-day road trip, the Capitals turned in another listless effort, scoring in the first two minutes but then being silenced in a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Its really disappointing, Boudreau said after the Capitals fifth loss (three in regulation) in seven games. Hopefully, this is as low as we get. What we were counting on as a coaching staff was to come in and win this game as a springboard for a tough road trip.
Instead, it was a springboard to a players-only meeting that kept the locker room shut for 11 minutes after a third period in which the Kings broke a 1-all tie on goals by Andrei Loktionov, Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll.
Boudreau initially wanted to address the team but, I talked to somebody who said, Let me go in and say something.
Boudreau did not the identify player but a team source said it was veteran defenseman Scott Hannan.
We talked a little bit, just kind of figuring out whats going on, what guys are thinking, right wing Mike Knuble said. You just talk for a few minutes about things and analyze what happened. Youre not going to say too much, but there are some things that need to get out.
Defenseman Karl Alzner said the meeting was everybody chiming in, and carried a common theme of being more consistent. Knuble, though, pointed to how the Capitals need to play with a larger sense of urgency.
Were coming to a key point in the season, and we have to all make sure were aware of that, he said. Its time to start throwing the switch toward the playoffs. Its like were waiting for something to happen.
I dont know what youre waiting for. Every game is important. Those are huge points we left on the table the past two games when we should have at least scraped out two. Theres not a lot of urgency, and we have to find it. This road trip could be great or could be an absolute embarrassment.
Boudreau said if the Capitals are waiting to just turn it into high gear, its going to be a long wait.
It never happens flip the switch and it goes, he said. It comes from the beginning of the game to the end of the game working your rear end off. If theyre waiting for some switch to magically appear, its not going to happen.
Boudreau didnt address the team after the game he got his tongue-lashing out of the way after the Kings final goal with 6:04 remaining.
The message was basically about pride, he said. Before the third, we talked about its a 1-1 game. We outworked them in the first, got outworked in the second. All we had to do was outwork them in the third to go into a tough road trip. It looked like they were already thinking about whats going on in the sun.
Boudreau benched Alexander Semin and Brooks Laich for the final six minutes after juggling the top three lines entering the final period by elevating Knuble to the top line and demoting Semin to the third unit.
And to think the Capitals actually led in the game.
Alex Ovechkins wrist shot from the slot just 66 seconds in gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead. But they couldnt build on it. Ovechkin had just one more shot despite playing a team-high 24:35 and going against Kings backup goalie Jonathan Bernier.
Were off in a good spot, and it should have been a spark for us, but we didnt follow it up with anything, Knuble said. They just took over the game after a while.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 shots, but the Kings turned two loose rebounds into goals. Loktionov scored the winner 3:36 into the third.
Two hours after their sixth consecutive loss to a Western Conference team, the Capitals were on their way to Arizona for a critical road trip that includes five games against five teams in playoff position or contending for a spot. Its not a stretch to say the season will be defined over the next nine days.
Were entering the toughest part of our season, and its going to be a real indicator if were going to be a serious contender, quite honestly, Knuble said. Weve got our work cut out for us.
Contact Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org.