As the Capitals searched for answers following another ugly, disjointed defeat — 4-1 to the Canadiens on Thursday night — players consistently pointed to an attribute that they, and they alone, control: work ethic. It's how they correct mistakes, how they prevent penalties and what should drive their games.

"If I had to say one thing, I'd say work ethic," Troy Brouwer said when asked what's going wrong. "We're not out of shape. That's an excuse right now. Guys are professionals here. They came into camp in shape, ready to go, and it's not — you know, fitness. It's work ethic. We're getting outworked. We've been outworked three times. We've lost three games."

The Capitals are the only team in the Eastern Conference without a point and every game that passes without any traction drops them further behind their foes. That alone should be enough to light a fire within a team, but at this stage Washington has yet to shift into gear. So what can they do for motivation?

"I don't know, you got any ideas? I'm out of 'em right now. Otherwise, we'd be working a little harder," Brouwer said. "I think guys have got to take it upon themselves to really pick their game up. You know, we don't need a rah-rah coach right now. We don't need guys to yell and scream. We need guys to be professional and play hard, tough hockey."