The Caps have started the new NHL season by scoring an impressive 10 goals through three games, but they also have 12 goals against. Their only win was a shootout victory against the Calgary Flames, a game they could have easily lost. Tonight, the team must get an uplifting regulation win to show the fans that the team means business this term.
“It is a division game but we just want to win,” stated Brooks Laich. “We’ve only got one win so far, and it’s been in a shootout. We want to get back to winning in regulation and then putting streaks together and separating ourselves from the pack…Got to start some momentum.”
There was no “momentum” during the first 20 games of last season, but I see a solid stretch of good results upcoming this time around—as long as superstar Alex Ovechkin keeps up his excellent start to the campaign. He’s the team’s top point scorer already with six points and has scored at least one goal in each game. He’s showing signs that he can rule the NHL this season.
Ovechkin is a major positive, and there were more positives through the team’s three games including seven power play goals and a great few first games by new center Mikhail Grabovski. However, there were some negatives too in that the Caps have been outscored 10-3 at even-strength and they have allowed way too many turnovers. Head Coach Adam Oates isn’t too concerned.
“I know what the guys can do and you’ve seen what they can do,” said Oates after the team’s practice on Wednesday. “We have a lot of guys who need to get a couple of goals and relax. We need to keep in our rhythm; that’s the most important thing.”
Keeping in rhythm is one thing; keeping the puck is essential. The first outings so far have featured some costly turnovers. Capitals forward Jason Chimera is pushing for calmness.
“It seems kind of like the panic button is on already for no reason,” said Chimera on Wednesday. “We lost two one-goal games and had one disallowed goal that we felt should not have been disallowed.”
Chimera and his mates should record their first regulation win tonight against the 1-1-1 Hurricanes. The Caps are 15-4-4 against Carolina over the last four campaigns. If everything falls into place, Ovechkin continues to fire on all cylinders, the penalty kill is solid, the team maintains its chemistry on the ice, and the Caps hold onto the puck, I see a goal-fest in the cards.
However, if the Caps lose again, the panic button will be primed.