The Capitals looked tired in Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss to the New York Islanders, both mentally and physically.
It showed on the score sheet, where they were outhit 36-22. And it showed in their execution with 14 giveaways.
Capitals coach Adam Oates noticed it, especially in the second half of the game.
“Maybe a little fatigue for the boys,” Oates said after watching his team lose in regulation for just the second time in six games. “They’ve played a lot of hockey. It’s been tough sledding out there day in and day out.”
With that in mind, the Capitals have a complete day off today before facing the red-hot Winnipeg Jets Thursday at Verizon Center. The Caps’ loss to the Islanders marked their fifth game in eight days.
“It was almost like it was two teams that weren’t playing their best hockey,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We were just kind of there. I think with the [Olympic] break coming up and playing a lot of games this month I think all the teams are probably feeling a little tired, a little run down and maybe we’re not seeing the best hockey right now.”
That was evident in the number of errant passes for both teams Tuesday night. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who was on the ice for Andrew MacDonald’s game winner, said he saw a lack of focus during the game.
“It starts with practice,” Backstrom said. “We can be better there, too. Hopefully we can bring that to the games.”
If the Caps want to be in the post-season for a seventh straight spring, it will need to start soon. They remain three points out of a playoff spot with four other non-playoff teams ahead of them.
The Caps have won two games in a row just once in their last 13 games and have not won three in a row since early December.
“It’s more frustrating than you know,” Alzner said. “It would be nice to string a few together. Guys get going with point streaks, goalies get confident. If we want to put ourselves in a position to play some post-season hockey we’ve got to put a string together. We can’t win one, lose one the rest of the way.”
By all estimates, the Caps will need somewhere around 92 points to secure a playoff spot this season. They currently have 59. That means they’d need to go somewhere around 15-7-3 in their final 25 games..
Can they do it?