Ten games into a 48-game season the Capitals are 30th in the NHL with a 2-7-1 record.
They’ve allowed 13 more goals than they’ve scored, also worst in the NHL.
For a team accustomed to being near the top of the NHL standings this is new ground.
“We’re not used to this,” Matt Hendricks said following Wednesday’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “It’s gotta change.”
Coach Adam Oates will tell you the Capitals are outchancing their opponents by a 2-1 margin, and he’d be right.
He will tell you the Caps are “way better” after Game 10 of the season than they were at Game 1, and he’d be right.
But at some point, all of that puck possession and all of those chances will need to translate into wins if the Capitals hope to make the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year.
“I don’t know if we have to sacrifice a cow or something,” center Jay Beagle said. “I don’t know what we have to do.”
Asked if it might be a better idea to start smaller, like a goat, Beagle replied, “No, I’m starting big.”
All joking aside, the Capitals are playing better than their record indicates. They are also just six points out of a playoff spot.
But as Yogi Berra liked to say, it’s getting late early. To earn a playoff spot the Caps will need to climb past no less than six teams. Right now those teams are Buffalo, Florida, Philadelphia, the Rangers, Carolina and Winnipeg.
No easy task.
“Playing well is not enough,” said Capitals left wing Jason Chimera.“You’ve got to win games.
“Unfortunately, you don’t get prizes for being close. Being close only counts in horseshoes, I think. You gotta get wins somehow.
“We gotta get better goaltending, we gotta get better play from our top guys. I have to chip in a little more. I haven’t scored a goal. You can get chances all you want, we’ve got to bury some. You start with yourself and move on from there.”
Through 10 games the Capitals have their share of problems, starting with the penalty kill, where they rank 23rd in the NHL. But their goaltending has been suspect and their ability to seize a game’s momentum has been nonexistent.
“It just seems like the [opposing] goals that are going in right now are kind of deflating us and it’s tough to keep that momentum,” defenseman Mike Green said. “But we’ve addressed it now and understand what we need to do and the mindset that we need. And we’ll come out of it.”
The Capitals’ next chance is Thursday night in Pittsburgh against as team that beat them 6-3 on Sunday.
“If we get on a run and win four or five games in a row we’re right back up in the standings,” Chimera said. “We’ve got the team to do it. It’s not like it’s not in here.
“Once we get guys scoring everyone loosens their sticks a little more and goalies start making saves when they have to. We’ve got to get on a run and it starts tomorrow in Pittsburgh.
“If we have to win it 1-0, win it 1-0. If we have to win it 6-5, win it 6-5. It has to start somewhere.”