The Washington Capitals are on the cusp of their longest losing streak in more than three years, and coach Bruce Boudreau is calling out his stars.
Perhaps a visit from the Colorado Avalanche can provide some relief—and goals.
Coming off another shutout defeat, the Capitals attempt to snap a four-game slide against the struggling Avalanche on Saturday night.
Washington (18-9-3) has lost four in a row while being held to one goal in two of those defeats. The team came up empty on all 36 shots Thursday, losing 3-0 to Florida to get shut out for the third time during a 4-5-2 stretch. The Capitals were blanked a league-low once last season.
Now, they’re in danger of a five-game skid for the first time since Nov. 10-21, 2007, and Boudreau is placing blame squarely on his top players.
“If your best players aren’t your best players, you’re not going to have success,” Boudreau said. “You have to get production out of your best players, and it’s not happening for us right now.
“Alex (Ovechkin) has two goals in 11 games (actually 12), (Alexander) Semin hasn’t scored in seven or eight games (actually five). Mike Green(notes) hasn’t gotten a goal in I don’t know how many games. Same thing with Nick Backstrom; he scored in the St. Louis game which was five games ago, but that was it. You can go farther down with Brooks Laich(notes) and Mike Knuble(notes).”
Those six players have totaled four goals and six assists over the last four games, and Washington’s power play is 2 for 19 in that stretch after failing to convert on eight attempts against the Panthers.
To help begin turning things around, Boudreau tried to instill some fun at practice Friday.
“We want them to have fun,” he said. “In anybody’s job, if you’re not having fun you’re not going to succeed. We had a little 3-on-3 tournament here, which is a fun game but at the same time, there’s a lot of skating in it.”
Washington had little trouble in its only meeting with Colorado (14-10-4) last season, winning 6-1 on Dec. 15 in Denver. The Capitals are 3-1-1 over the last five home matchups, but dropped the most recent one, 4-1 on Feb. 20, 2009.
Ovechkin and Semin have largely been ineffective against the Avalanche, combining for three points in four games.
This meeting could prove fortuitous for the two Russians, as Colorado ranks among the worst defensive teams in the league, allowing 3.14 goals per game.
The Avalanche ended a four-game losing streak by winning for just the second time in eight games, 4-2 at Atlanta on Friday.
“We didn’t have a three-period game lately and we need it,” said Colorado’s Tomas Fleischmann(notes), a former Capital who had a goal and an assist. “We came and did what we needed to do, and I think we played good.”
Hejduk, however, may be the hottest, scoring six goals and setting up five others over the last nine games. The right wing found the net again Friday, and leads the Avalanche with 31 points after tying his career-low with 44 while injuries limited him to 56 games last season.
Hejduk had two assists in the last visit to the Verizon Center.