Hours before the puck dropped on the 2023-24 season, members of the Washington Capitals hit the red carpet in style — arriving to the venue in luxury vehicles donning designer suits, they smiled for the cameras and signed countless autographs for a sea of red-clad fans. It was a picture perfect way to signify the start of the new campaign.
The same could not be said about the game that followed. With their chief rival in town, the Capitals were thoroughly schooled by the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-0, in front of a sellout crowd.
After last season ended in disappointment, with the Caps missing the playoffs for the first time since 2014, cautious optimism filled the hearts and minds of the fanbase eager to see what a healthy core of returning veterans could do under new coach Spencer Carbery. Sadly, Washington was out-hustled, outworked and outclassed by Sidney Crosby, Evgeny Malkin and friends.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with our execution and puck management,” said center Nicklas Backstrom, or the team’s lackluster showing.
For better or worse, it’s wise not to fixate on any one particular performance over the course of an 82-game regular season. Players are trained to never get too high or too low, and fans would be wise to embrace a similar mentality. That said, this was a less-than-ideal way to turn the page
“It’s the worst scripted start we possibly could’ve had in terms of just being disappointed. Home ice, trying to generate some momentum from a season standpoint. That certainly did not happen,” Carbery said.