Fifteen games in and about a third of the way through the regular season, the National Hockey League has had it’s fair share of surprises. Sure, with a lockout shortened season like the league is currently in, strange things are bound to happen. Previously bad teams can rise to the top, players have less time to reach the marks they strive for, and teams that have held the crown of their division before can easily slip into tough times and troubles.
Adam Oates Must Get the Washington Capitals in Order
The Washington Capitals are the prime example of that last topic.
Following a 42-32-8 season capped by their playmakers doing what they do best, scoring and helping, this year has been a complete reversal from what fans in Washington are used to seeing from the Capitals. This time last season, the surging Capitals already had ten wins in fifteen games and they were an early favorite to win the division and make a deep playoff run. Their key stars like Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom were putting up big plays, and the goaltending scenario was not even close to being complicated.
Let’s travel one year later. The Washington Capitals are 5-9-1 and sitting dead last in their division. They have already suffered a four-game losing streak, their goalie scenario is a mess to say the least, and the team has no identity whatsoever.
With their upcoming schedule being against a tough New Jersey Devils team, the Washington Capitals must get something clicking, and fast. It may sound cliche, but if you want to win the big games, coaching has to take over and be in control of the team.
Adam Oates must get this team and motion, and in position to make a push later in the season. First order of business: Find your goalie, and stick with him. If Oates is going to keep both Braden Holtby and Michal Neuvirth on the squad and rotating starts, he must construct a consistent goalie schedule and make sure these guys both know when they are going to start. Goalies can only be at their peak if they are prepared to take on a team at least a few days in advance.
As for the offensive side of things, Oates must keep his captain focused. Alex Ovechkin may not have the numbers this year, but he still has been playing at a high level. Oates must make sure that “The Great Eight” knows that he is the Captain of this team, and if he wants the big plays and big wins, it starts at the top with the play of the most talented player on the team.