Despite having several veterans in key positions, the Caps are relying heavily on young talent that grew quickly last year. But they've been surprisingly inconsistent at times this season, and they played that way again in Saturday's listless 5-0 road loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
The Caps found so much success so quickly last season that it's almost as if this year's group -- mainly the same team -- might think it can turn it on and off whenever it pleases. That would explain the stretches this season in which the Caps have been flat at both ends of the ice.
But teams can't just decide to play harder when needed. You've got to go 100 percent all the time, and the Caps might just be getting some painful lessons in that.
Their effort at Buffalo truly infuriated coach Bruce Boudreau, who criticized several players afterward, something that's a little different for him. Maybe he's trying to get them to wake up and see the light. The question is if they'll listen.
SABRES 5, CAPITALS 0: The loss of LW Alex Ovechkin for the second consecutive game certainly hurt, and it will be interesting to see how the Caps do when he returns against Ottawa. The offense has been inconsistent in recent games, and the Caps have gotten very little from Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin has scored a goal in just one game, and Backstrom hasn't even found the net yet.
Capitals web site reports that Ovechkin is scheduled to rejoin the Capitals in time for Tuesday's game at Ottawa and Capitals Insider reports that Ovechkin has been skating in Russia.
That's good news, I was afraid he could get out of shape.
To me the worst game Caps played this season was in Arizona. Yesterday loss to Sabres? I don't know the exact stats, but to me it looks like Caps lose 90% of the time if they run into a good goalie. Plus I think Caps were not that much outworked by Sabres, they were beaten by class. For some reason Sabres have Caps number, just like Caps have additional jump against Ottawa. And the next game is Tuesday in Ottawa. We'll see...