A day after the Washington Capitals’ most humiliating loss of the season, General Manager George McPhee blamed undisciplined play and poor goaltending for the fourth-worst start in franchise history through 11 games. “I think the only — the two areas we must get better is keeping pucks out of our net and it starts by not taking penalties and protecting the goalies more,” McPhee said Friday. “They’ve had their time in Hershey. There is upside there with these goaltenders. But they can both play better and they know it. And it’s time for them to play.” Frequent penalties are certainly one of the problems; Washington leads the league in power-play goals allowed (15) and has been whistled for the seventh-most minors (55) in the NHL entering Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers. The team’s two young netminders, Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth, have a 4.74 and 3.05 goals against average, respectively. But players say there’s also another reason things keep on getting worse, and it’s a problem that has spread through the dressing room: a lack of mental fortitude. After nearly every defeat this season, the Capitals have cited a lull in focus or drive that proved to be their undoing. The most recent example came after the 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh Thursday, when Alex Ovechkin said that the Capitals “didn’t play” and had “no emotions, nothing” against a foe that’s supposed to be their most heated rival.
A lack of mental fortitude plaguing Washington more than X’s and O’s
Washington Post | Feb 9