The Washington Capitals have lost four of six games and two in a row. Mike Knuble used the words "clowns" and "losers" to describe himself and his teammates after Tuesday's loss. Coach Bruce Boudreau put the team through a grueling practice Wednesday that had players hunched over and gasping for air.
And while captain Alex Ovechkin agreed with Knuble's critical comments, he cautioned that it's not time to start having meetings to turn things around.
"I don't think it's that kind of moment right now that we have to have meeting in group. We only lost two games. It's not like four or five games we didn't play hard," Ovechkin said in a late afternoon meeting with beat reporters. "I don't think it's kind of moment for us to make something like talk to each other. I think we all understand what we have to do and how we have to play."
It's too premature to consider this anything like the eight-game winless streak from 2010-11, and Ovechkin said this is different altogether.
"Right now it's just the two games," he said. "If we're going to want to win the game, we're going to have to play how we play against Carolina and how we started playing this year."
Knuble's harsh comments about the "embarrassing" loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday didn't seem so outspoken Wednesday as players roundly agreed with him. Ovechkin, speaking in the media room at Kettler Capitals Iceplex after doing a television appearance, joined that chorus of support for his alternate captain.
"I think we are playing like clowns last night because we don't have any effort," Ovechkin said. "We play only, I think, a couple minutes well and after that we just give them everything they want."
But those comments don't necessarily serve as motivation.
"I think motivation [is] we lost. It's not just all about words to say something," Ovechkin said. "Like if we're going to see some fans going to say something, like we're clowns and play like group of idiots, it's not going to be motivation for us. It's motivation like we're losing right now."
The Caps are losing right now because of various reasons, with Boudreau and players pointing to losing one-on-one puck battles. Defensive mistakes have been present and turnovers have played a role, as well.
Ovechkin had an explanation.
"We all understand what we have to do out there. Sometimes we just didn't win the battle, you stay too long on the ice and you don't have energy to play more intensely in defensive zone," he said. "But Bruce tell us what we have to do; we just have to do it if we want to have success. Sometimes you just can't do it because you don't have energy at all because you play over a minute, a minute-10 on the ice and you're stuck in your zone. You're kind of in bad situation."
Putting themselves in bad situations has led to this losing play — and Wednesday's bag skate that included four rounds of suicide sprints and some intense drills.
"I think he just try to make a wake-up call for us because I think a couple games we didn't play hard and we didn't battle," Ovechkin said. "I think it's kind of wake-up call."
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