Bad Starts Continue to Doom the Washington Capitals

WardUgh

Photo credit: Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals have a glaring hole: they are terrible in the first period. The team is being outscored 24-15 in opening frames, one of the worst differentials in the league. Friday night, it happened again: the Montreal Canadiens took a 3-0 lead less than 14 minutes into the game.

The Caps know this is a problem too. It’s existed all year and you’d have to be stupid to miss it. Most troubling, though, is the lack of answers the players seem to have for the issue. They know it’s there, they just can’t stop it.

“Maybe we need some better music or something,” Troy Brouwer quipped. “I don’t know. We gotta find a way. We gotta find it fast.”

Once Washington gets out of those first 20 minutes, they play good hockey. The Caps have scored the third-most second period goals in the league and they are okay in the third too. Washington is treading water in the horrid Metropolitan division, but they’d be much better off if they didn’t spot their opponents multi-goal leads every other night.

Sometimes the Caps come back. In just their second game of the year, they gave the Flames a 3-0 lead. Though Washington won in the shoutout, it took a lot of luck. Throughout October, Adam Oates maintained that win was the worst game of the season. Often, toss-ups don’t go their way.

There isn’t one specific thing to point as the root of these problems. The team doesn’t seem to lack energy early on, they just play poorly: bad passes, missed defensive assignments, soft goals. Overall suckage prevails over the Caps in the frame. Braden Holtby, for one, has called out the team’s preparation, saying the team was too loose before games. The Caps, however, have always been a relaxed team. Whether the team is winning the Presidents’ Trophy or getting their head coach fired, the boys can usually be spotted playing soccer and listening to Russian techno before a matchup.

“We can’t expect to win games if we’re down 3-0,” Brouwer concluded. “Whether it’s being more ready in warm-up, more crisp in warm-up, more crisp even before the game starts — we’ve got to find some way, because that’s been a big problem of ours all season long, is our starts. Getting down by goals, sometimes multiple goals, and we have the ability to come back in this room, but you’re not going to be able to do it every night.”

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  • Freedoooom

    Using the 1st line to start the game and periods would go a long way. Used to be the Talking Twins getting first shift of games/periods, now its Grabos line then the Talking Twins before the 1st line gets a shift to start game/period.

    Oates is clueless.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    Meh the techno EDM crap is better than the Eminem I’ve heard played before. Including but not limited to The Bears, Navy Midshipmen, NYI and even our very own Verizon centre before games.

  • yv

    Not better music, but pregame shot of vodka(tonic), accepted and norm in the past, before the field, hand-to-hand combat battles, would finally do the job!

  • bskillet

    Eric Fehr Oates, what is wrong with you? Take out Laich or Marty and put Eric on the 2nd line. I know it’s a broken record and won’t solve all our problems, which really aren’t very many but Fehr is a 20 goals scorer give or take, Brooks well he’s on pace for about 5 maybe 6…and oh Eric can penalty kill too!!!

  • hockeyrich

    Troy Brouwer should be riding the pine not Marty! He is the worst forward on the team. Always ends up with some great quotes though. He needs to start moving his feet along with his weak line mate. Both are bad for the team, please trade them!