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Laviolette not buying that heavy workload is leading to bad starts originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
A troubling trend has emerged for the Capitals over the last three games as the team got off to horrific starts in all three contests.
With two day games over the weekend, it was easy to blame it on the early start times. The Caps do have only one win in their six day games this season, after all. But the bad starts carried over into Tuesday's contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins leaving head coach Peter Laviolette with no answers.
“I would agree that the first period we were jumped a little bit," Laviolette said. "They were just quicker than us so that’s definitely something that we will talk about in regard to the next game we have against them.”
Washington gave up more shot attempts (20-15), shots on goal (12-6), failed to generate even a shot on goal on either of their power plays and trailed 1-0 through the first period. In a game that ultimately went to overtime, a decent 20 minutes to start could have tipped the scales in Washington's favor.
The Caps have now gone three straight games without a first-period goal.
One thing the Rangers, Devils and Penguins have in common is their speed, which seems to have given the Caps fits over the past three games. Washington has fast players, but overall is not a fast team, which seems to make their slow starts more pronounced.
But it is not as if the Caps have suddenly gotten slower. So why has this suddenly become such a glaring issue?
Well, it's definitely not the schedule, at least according to Laviolette.
The condensed 2021 season means there are not many days off for the players. They play almost every other day and Laviolette tends to take advantage of the little time there is left for practice.
Besides the mandated one off-day per week, we do not see very many additional days off or optional practices. In some ways that is understandable. There are a lot of new players on this team along with a new head coach who had a shortened training camp and no preseason.
But is the workload starting to take its toll on an older team?
Laviolette isn't buying it.
“Everybody has got the same schedule," he said. "Like, there is no excuses here. If that was the case, we would have been quick in the first and slow in the third."
Laviolette brings up a good point here. How can you say a team is worn down if it is starting slow and finishing well?
Whatever the issue may be, it is one Laviolette needs to resolve and fast. The Caps are good, but they are not good enough to win every night if they can only muster a decent 40 minutes out of 60.
Said Laviolette, "We’ve got to be better and we will address it.”