Slow start dooms Capitals in disappointing loss to Canadiens

The midpoint of the season provides a perfect opportunity for players and front offices to review what’s gone right and what needs to improve. Brutally honest assessments are vital, both on and off the ice, for the good of the franchise.

To that end, the 2023-24 Washington Capitals have proven to be a limited bunch. The offense struggles to score consistently (only two teams in the league have scored less this season), the defense has been erratic and the goaltenders remain streaky. With an aging roster that too often relies on razor-thin margins, each game further solidifies that Washington is not a true contender and that simply qualifying for the postseason might be a difficult achievement.

Nicklas Backstrom ($9.2 million this season) played just eight games before stepping away from the team thanks to a chronic hip injury. Evgeny Kuznetsov ($7.8 million) did not return after the All-Star break, having entered the NHL’s player assistance program. T.J. Oshie ($5.75 million) remains productive when healthy, but “when healthy” is a substantial disclaimer for the oft-injured winger. Alex Ovechkin’s ($9.5 million) pursuit of the NHL’s all-time scoring record is in serious jeopardy after a less-than-stellar first half of the season.

For Washington to be truly competitive this season, they need much more from their core players. With the trade deadline one month away and the Caps currently on the outside looking in at likely playoff teams — Moneypuck gives them a 1.5 percent chance of qualifying while The Athletic puts the odds at five percent — the next few weeks will decide general manager Brian MacLellan’s course of action.

Sadly, Washington’s start to the second half of the season wasn’t any better than their first half showing, as Montreal cruised to a relatively straightforward 5-2 win at Capital One Arena. Goalie Charlie Lindgren was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots and the competitive portion of the evening concluded before the game was even 12 minutes old.

Ovechkin scored his 10th goal of the season and 832nd of his NHL career, on an otherwise forgettable night for the home team. Ovechkin is now 62 goals away from Wayne Gretzky’s record, while his Capitals are currently mired in a season-long five-game winless streak.

Leave a Reply

HomerMcFanboy background image