Off the field, Caps can’t afford to overlook the details originally appeared on NBC SportsWashington
WASHINGTON — It’s now or never for the Capitals.
After losing 5-2 to the St. Louis Blues On Friday night in a game that was quickly slipping out of reach, the Capitals find themselves on the verge of chasing a playoff spot. The game presented a chance to gain some ground against the idle New York Islanders, who hold the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Instead, they dropped a disappointing game against a sub-.500 team.
Problems with turnovers led to multiple breakaways and odd-man rushes that allowed the Blues to outstrip the Capitals by three points despite being weak on both scoring (34-22) and puck possession (65.4% Corsi For percent) left behind.
“There were a couple of bad ones tonight where we throw it over the defending zone and it gets picked up and they come in and have a close-range chance,” head coach Peter Laviolette said in his post-game press conference. “There are some, but for me it was more, it was just the details of the game that weren’t sharp and clear enough. You need to. The game is about detail and you have to be sharp with your details and we just weren’t.”
The Capitals have reached the point of the season where they can no longer afford to miss details. On paper, they were a better team than St. Louis, especially since Blues goaltender Joel Hofer was just starting his third NHL career game. After beating the Buffalo Sabers in a shootout on Wednesday to put them ahead of them overall, this was a game the Capitals could have used to gain some momentum down the stretch.
“We don’t have any leeway at the moment, if any, so it’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to come out and prepare for that and try to move up the table,” said forward Conor Sheary. “So, at that point, we need to get rolling, and if we don’t, it’s going to end quickly for us.”
With 73 points, they have just 12 games left on their schedule and need to overtake both the Islanders (78) and Florida Panthers (75). Florida has two games in hand and New York owns one of them The 10 simplest remaining schedules in the league after tankathon. The Capitals have an easy schedule next week before ending the regular season with eight of their last nine games against playoff opponents.
The disappointing game in January and February put the Capitals in the position where they have been battling for playoff life for most of the past eight weeks. It’s put a lot of pressure on them to leave the arena with two points every night, but all they can do this last month is iron out bad results and build up good ones.
“We talked about it after Buffalo,” Laviolette said. “It’s a big win. It’s two points, right? You need to move the page and go to the next one. So we’re going to go through that and try to get better as we venture out here, but we need to turn the page here as well. We need to take a look and teach a little about things we can do better.
“But in the same vein, we can’t dwell on it too long. We have a big game ahead of us, so you have to put it behind you every day. No matter what the day brings, you must keep going here. So that’s the mindset we need to have.”
Source : sports.yahoo.com