The Washington Times - February 7, 2013, 08:53AM

What do Washington Capitals players and their coach think is the biggest problem with the team after a 2-7-1 start? I encourage you to read my story discussing that here.

Simply, I went around the locker room and posed the question, “What is this team’s biggest problem right now?” Or some variation very close to that, to several players after Wednesday’s practice. The following is their word-for-word responses to only that question:

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TROY BROUWER

“I don’t know. I think little mental lapses that are getting us caught. You saw it on the first goal yesterday. We’re in the game, we’re controlling the game, and all of a sudden, little communication problem there. We get scored on and we’re chasing from behind. We haven’t been able to score more than three goals in a game, so that means we have to try and keep the other team to one or two. We can’t win games as a result.”

ADAM OATES

“The biggest one? I think it’s different every time.”

JOEY CRABB

“The biggest problem? Oh boy. That’s a tough question. I don’t know, to tell you the truth. I think there’s two problems right now: We’re not scoring enough goals, which I don’t think it’s any kind of an issue. It’s just the way things are going right now. We have plenty of guys that can score goals on this team. It’s just not going in for us right now. We’re getting chances and once you start scoring goals, then you start getting hungrier and it seems like you find the back of the net more, as an individual and as a team. And then No. 2 is just little costly mistakes that aren’t from a poor system or poor effort. It’s just little mistakes, just like that exchange with the puck. It’s not like neither the goalie or the D-man were not trying or it wasn’t a system thing, it’s something like that that has cost us. I think those two things right there.”

KARL ALZNER

“Let me think what the biggest problem is. Honestly, I don’t know. I think there’s a couple small problems that are really hurting us. I think that our PP and PK haven’t been very good; I think last night was probably the first night where we’ve won the battle and didn’t win the game. I think that’s a problem. And I think that some of the little mental errors that we’re making, it doesn’t seem like we’re getting the same thing for. A lot of it’s just going against. I don’t think there’s one big gaping problem, but I think there’s a couple little things that, I don’t see how once we fix it, we can’t be an incredibly good team. That’s the thing. I think we’re right on the cusp and it’s just a couple little things that keep nagging us. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. I don’t think there’s one big issue.”

MARCUS JOHANSSON

“We’re not scoring enough to win games, I think, and we’re letting too many goals in. That’s the biggest problem. We’re not winning games.”

BRADEN HOLTBY

“It’s pretty simple in my mind. We’ve been playing solid games, it’s just those little mental mistakes, those little things during a game, and we’re all guilty of it, that are making the big difference. Those are the things that the best players in the league and the world never make because their mental game is stronger. Right now we’re not good enough that way, and we’re really working at being better and I think we will be.”

MATT HENDRICKS

“The biggest problem? It feels like when we make mistakes they end up in our net. It’s not a lot of system errors. I think it’s a lot of human error. Mistakes that happen in a game, goals are scored because of mistakes and if you can limit your mistakes to two or three times a game, it’s pretty good. But it seems to be going in our net.”

JAY BEAGLE

“I know we’ve got to play a full 60 minutes. There are some shifts where we hem them into their zone, it seems like for five minutes, and then they go down and score on like one rush so I don’t know if there is just one issue.I do know just from talking to my linemates that we’ve got to try to create more as a team at the net and try to, overall, play a way harder game, make it hard on the opposition throughout the whole game and not let them have those two- or three-minute breaks where we almost let off. That’s where we get in trouble, I think.”

JASON CHIMERA

“A little bit of everything. We’re good in a lot of areas, but not great. I think it starts with everybody. Like I said, it starts with me. First you got to score some goals to help your team out. You got to look at yourself in the mirror, I think. That’s the biggest thing. You can’t go look at one thing and say this is our problem. Obviously we’ve got a lot of problems where we are. So I think we’re playing good, but not good enough.”

JOEL WARD

“The biggest problem? What were [other guys’] answers? {Mental mistakes, mental errors, little things} I’ll go with the same answer.”