These are the words we are hearing after another loss for the Capitals on Thursday night. We really aren’t sure who this team is right now. As Coach Trotz said earlier in the week; they lack an identity.
It is difficult to get the team synergy going with so many players out. Having Matt Niskanen on the IR is a huge loss to the defense. The rookie defensemen, who played well in Hershey, haven’t found their rhythm with the more experienced players. We want to see Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos improve their play as we think they are the better option over Aaron Ness or even Taylor Chorney.
And when you add in missing critical forwards like Nick Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, and now Brett Connolly, it’s like rebuilding every night. Not to mention the unknown about Tyler Graovac, also out and yet to fully demonstrate his abilities. The constant line changes hasn’t produced a great top line yet. We thought we had it the first couple of games when Alex Ovechkin had his two hat tricks, but then it seemed to dry up.
- The Capitals called up forward Anthony Peluso from the Hershey Bears on Friday. He signed with the Caps in July 2017 and played with the team through the pre-season. He has more experience-142 NHL games. Graovac has been placed on injured reserve.
We don’t want to just bemoan the loss or the obvious disarray the Capitals are in right now. We are dismayed and puzzled that they can’t find the linchpin to make it work. We have one of the best shooters in the league and a couple of the highest paid forwards, and yet they continue to struggle.
We want to be hopeful. As Isabelle heard from Ovi after the loss, this is not the team we watched last year and it is time to accept that:
Tried to ask Ovechkin about this. Ovechkin: "Enough talking about how good we were last year, it’s over."
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) October 27, 2017
Following the loss in Vancouver, Ovi said he isn’t frustrated and that it is the responsibility of the leaders on the team to turn things around. Evgeny Kuznetsov says the team isn’t playing its best and they have to stay positive as they get to their best game. Players recognize the problems – Jay Beagle said there was a breakdown in the neutral zone – which we can all agree is accurate. Kuzy said the problem is a poor showing in the first period and then they have to recover.
There certainly is a good amount of fan tweeting about Coach Trotz. Will he make it through the entire season? Has he run out of ideas to right the ship? Following the Canucks game he met with the press to discuss where the Caps are at this stage. He is concerned that the team can’t kill off the penalties they keep getting. He is in a tough position, having to deal with a team that isn’t the team he planned to work with. He has to use players in different positions and some, like John Carlson, are spending a whole lot more time on the ice. He has to increasingly depend on the top guys to perform as they continue to integrate the junior players. It is taking time to build a new identity.
His message to the team is to “Understand who we are and play to our identity.” We hope they get it together by the end of the road trip and can get back to playing the exciting way we have seen them play the past couple of seasons.