Adam Oates was upbeat on Monday, despite a 2-6-1 start to the season for the Washington Capitals.
“You’ve got to try and think big picture and that’s what direction we’re going as a team and I think we’re going in the right direction,’ the coach said.
After Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs that featured some positives elements but plenty of self-inflicted mistakes. The Caps looked lost in the search for something, anything.
“I really don’t have the answers,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “I’m having a hard time with this.”
There were mixed reviews about how the Caps played against a mediocre Maple Leafs team.
“We played great. I thought we got a lot of chances to score,” defenseman Tom Poti said. “We just couldn’t find the back of the net. At the end of the day we just have to find a way to win some how, some way.”
Oates said he’s running out of cliches to say to players and that it’s hard to maintain confidence among the coaching staff.
“I think everyone is frustrated. I mean, we’re not winning games,” forward Marcus Johansson said. “That’s what we’re here for and that’s what everybody wants to do. And of course it’s frustrating and tough, but we’ve got to battle through it and find a way to win the games.”
That’s hard to do when a miscommunication between Poti and goaltender Michal Neuvirth leads to a goal by James van Riemsdyk midway through the first period.
“Obviously the first goal is a huge deflater for us, a miscommunication. Not something we needed at that time,” Oates said. “We had plenty of time, we didn’t execute, little miscommunication with him and the defenseman.”
There has been too much talk around the Caps about falling victim to bad breaks. Those have been the case, but it’s not an excuse that will fly for much longer.
“We’ve got to create our own luck,” right wing Joey Crabb said. “A lot of times those bounces happen to good teams and they don’t let it affect them. We’ve got to be one of those teams and just, if you’re working hard and you’re playing good, you’re creating your own luck.”
Until then, expect the negativity to continue to encroach on the Caps’ locker room, as players struggle to fight it off.
“We got to believe in what we’re doing,” Johansson said. “We got to believe that we’ll get better and keep working on it. That’s what we got to do.”