The Washington Capitals (4-6-2) started their season brightly under new Head Coach Barry Trotz. Their success, however, was short lived, as a five-game losing streak has darkened the 2014 debut, culminating in their Tuesday night loss against the Calgary Flames.
After a promising 3-0-2 start, the Capitals appeared ready to assuage any concerns about Trotz’s coaching ability. The Capitals’ poor run of form seems to signal that Trotz’s transformation is far from finished. D.C.’s hockey team has been decent for years, but they have repeatedly failed to come through in the clutch. So far this year, the Capitals have lost five games by one goal. Six of their seven losses have seen them surrender second period leads because of a mix of turnovers, defensive breakdowns, and misreads.
Washington Captain Alex Ovechkin is still the undisputed star of the team. He may have been the one bright spot against the Flames, as his performance in the game made him the Capitals’ all-time points leader. Although he performed well on Tuesday, his career has been emblematic of the Capitals’ past fortunes. Despite his three league MVP awards, he has never made it past the second round of the playoffs. He and center Nicklas Bäckström, the alternate captain, are talented enough to keep the Capitals competitive in most games, but the two have left much to be desired on the ice this season. Fans are calling for someone else to begin picking up some of the slack.
One player who could step up is the already impressive rookie Andre Burakovsky. The Swede is scoring at least one point in each game he plays despite only averaging roughly 14 minutes a game. The 19-year-old center has received high praise from Trotz and is already being put forward as a possible contender for the Calder Trophy, an award for the best player in his first year in the NHL. Rookie Liam O’Brien has also received high praise as a future weapon for a team starved of quality.
The Capitals have the talent to overcome their losing streak, but in order for the season to be a success, they will need to cut down on the mental lapses that have plagued them. Washington will be back in action against the Blackhawks in Chicago this Friday at 8 p.m.