Panic Time For Washington Capitals?

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Adam Oates
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Washington Capitals now in crisis mode after blowing two leads in a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday? Not according to the team — but things have to change. There is way too much talent in the club for them to be sitting at 1-3-0 and dead last in the Metropolitan Division after four games. Something has to give — and soon.

The team was arguably expected to lose its season opener against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, but a lucky escape against the Calgary Flames followed by two losses against the Dallas Stars and the Hurricanes? Those last three teams do not top any betting lists as Cup contenders.

Washington hasn’t enjoyed more than a one-goal lead in any of its first four games, and coach Adam Oates needs to inject something new into the team quickly, or people in D.C. will start to grumble. The third and fourth lines and the defense just aren’t getting it done at the moment, despite Jason Chimera scoring the Caps’ first goal, (let’s face it — it was the goalie’s error).

Through the early games, there were too many errors, lapses in concentration and too much over-skating.

The home team started out well enough on Thursday night, out-shooting the Hurricanes 14-9 with Chimera scoring his first goal of the season to put the Caps up 1-0 going into the first intermission. Additionally, the forecheck was strong in the first, and they were getting pucks on the net. After that, it started to go wrong.

With the score sitting at 2-1 for Washington after an Elias Lindholm equalizer followed by an Alex Ovechkin goal, the Capitals carelessly allowed the Hurricanes back into the game during the second period by destroying their own impetus and giving away silly penalties, including a 5-on-3 situation that allowed former Capital Alexander Semin to score a critical tying goal.

Penalties aside, there were other issues.  The Caps skated all over the ice in the second period while recording only two shots on goal through the first 13 minutes. It was a similar story in the final period. A defensive mistake involving Washington’s John Carlson allowed the Hurricanes to set up and score their winning goal in the third period when Nathan Gerbe pushed the puck past goalie Braden Holtby.

Oates has some decisions to make. Maybe he’ll mix up the lines; maybe he’ll bench a player or two and bring up some others from Hershey (doubtful); maybe he’ll bring back the rookie Connor Carrick (a healthy scratch last night); maybe he’ll re-evaluate his system and change things up a bit.

Whatever Oates comes up with, it had better be soon.

G.J. Cosker is a Washington Capitals writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.