Holtby says Caps need to 'zone out' distractions

Holtby says Caps need to 'zone out' distractions
January 22, 2014, 3:15 pm
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Center Brooks Laich stood in one corner of the Capitals locker room Tuesday night challenging his teammates to look at themselves in the mirror.

A few feet away, goaltender Braden Holtby talked about the distractions that have led to the Capitals’ six-game losing streak.

Mired in their worst stretch in more than three years, the Capitals are desperately seeking answers right now and coming up empty.

“One of the main things is we have to zone out all the distractions and just focus on the task,” Holtby said Tuesday night after absorbing his fourth straight loss.

“Obviously, everyone knows there’s been some things going on that have been a little bit of a distraction and right now we just need to be professionals mentally. We know what we have to do on the ice and we have to get better at it.”

Holtby, who has not won a game since Dec. 7, did not elaborate on those distractions, but they’re pretty easy to identify.

Veteran forward Marty Erat asked for a trade nearly two months ago and is still on the roster.

[RELATED: Caps fall to Sens without Ovechkin]

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer was recalled from the Hershey Bears when Michal Neuvirth injured his ankle stepping on a puck and when Grubauer was not returned to Hershey, Neuvirth’s agent requested a trade.

The bottom third of the Capitals’ blue line has been a plug-and-play all season, with Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt, Connor Carrick, John Erskine, Alex Urbom, Steve Oleksy, Tyson Strachan and Patrick Wey all getting shots to hold down a spot.  

And the road is about to get even tougher for the Capitals, who after practice on Thursday will embark on a five-game road trip that takes them to New Jersey, Montreal, Buffalo, Columbus and Detroit.

Laich became pretty passionate when he was asked if something needs to be said in the locker room to turn things around.

“After the Ranger game [a 4-1 loss Sunday night], the room was pretty silent,” Laich said. “If somebody wants to stand up and yell, where was that two hours ago? Now all of a sudden you’re proving you’re into the hockey game?

“The hockey game is over. Words can be hollow; actions aren’t. You prove to your hockey team that you’re willing to play and do things right to win -- that’s what people follow.

“There are leaders in here, veteran guys. Screaming and hollering? In the movies or something people stand up and give rah-rah speeches. In real life, the game is played out there. The game isn’t played in here.

“Everything is shown on the ice and the video doesn’t lie. If you watch the game and you watch your shifts, the video is not going to lie to you. It’s going to tell you if you’re playing good or you’re playing bad; if you’ve got good habits or bad habits. I think everyone, if they watch [Tuesday night’s loss] right now, isn’t going to be too excited about it.”