NEW YORK | There were times this year when the Washington Capitals were almost strangely upbeat the day after a seemingly crushing loss. Shake it off, enjoy a nice practice.
Sunday wasn’t one of those days. A couple players yukked it up after coming off the ice, but the tone on the ice was more serious. The Caps knew they didn’t play well, and Brooks Laich wasn’t messing around.
“It’s an intense time of year and we’re here to win,” the veteran forward said. “It takes so much to win that every little thing matters that if there’s things that I think we can be doing better, then I’m going to try and help to do that and try and find a way to get the most out of our guys. It’s something we’ll address in the room, and I don’t really care to share too much more than that.”
Understood. Laich doesn’t have to share any more with reporters. But he didn’t have to.
His answer earlier in the interview Sunday about the core group needing to be better was a strong enough message.
“It falls on a lot of us. Individually, there were some guys that weren’t at their best. And as a team, we didn’t play well. We took some penalties in the offensive zone away from our net,” Laich said. “We fanned on some pucks. Some bad line changes. There’s a lot of areas of our game that we have to clean up. And it starts with the individuals, but that will help our team game come. Your top guys have to be your top guys and accept responsibility for that and be better next game.”
Jason Chimera pointed out Saturday evening that “We need to be better right from our best players down.” He said the effort level wasn’t enough.
Several players said the intensity level wasn’t the same for Game 1 against the Rangers.
“For me I didn’t really sense it in practice, but in the game I definitely did,” forward Jay Beagle said. “We just need to ramp up everything. Everything needs to be brought to another level. It’s the second round and they’re bringing their game to another level.”