Capitals want to put teams behind them in playoff chase

Facing Sabres, Flyers gives Washington an opportunity to get some distance

Question of the Day

What has been the biggest debacle on Obama's watch?

View results

Jack Hillen missed all but eight games this season, but the veteran defensemen earlier this week made it perfectly clear that taking positives out of a loss wasn’t good enough anymore.

“We dug ourselves a big hole to start the season, and we’re not taking anything away from this game except that we didn’t get any points,” Hillen said after the Washington Capitals lost to the New York Islanders. “We need to get points in games now. We want to make the playoffs. The goal is to make the playoffs. We didn’t get points.”

Not getting points against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins of the world can be understandable; those teams are the class of the Eastern Conference. Failing to do so against the Islanders is hard to swallow, just as it would be unacceptable for the Caps not to pick up points this weekend at the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers.

“We talked about it when we faced the Islanders: The teams that were coming up in the next four games were teams that we want to put behind us on not look back,” forward Brooks Laich said. “We’ve got Buffalo and we want to put them behind us, we’ve got Philly and we want to put them behind us and then we’ve got Carolina, we want to catch them and put them behind us. You always want to keep putting teams behind you and keep an eye on the teams above you.”

The Caps are looking up at 10 teams in the East, including Tuesday’s opponent, the Hurricanes. But the Sabres and Flyers are below Washington in the standings.

That means the weekend becomes a matter of taking care of business. To coach Adam Oates, every game is an important one the Caps need to win, no matter the opponent.

“You’re on auto-pilot,” he said. “You go to a new city and it’s kind of that way every year in March where you’re just playing, and every game as soon as you get out there in warm-up it’s another big game.”

The Caps go into Saturday four points back of the East’s final playoff spot with 15 games to play. That’s 15 of what Laich calls “opportunities.” In reality, there’s plenty of pressure to win roughly 10 of them to make the playoffs.

That urgency is why Oates isn’t concerned about which opponents are up next on the schedule.

“Hopefully you’re getting up for the game because we need to win,” he said. “But all-in-all every game right now is, there’s [only] so many left that you should not have a problem getting up for them.”

There are few chances for the Caps to give away points. A 2-8-1 start paved the way for this.

But Laich doesn’t think the slow start forces he and his teammates to prove they belong as a playoff contender.

“You have to prove yourself every day. That doesn’t ever change,” he said. “This year, maybe more than eve,r it doesn’t really matter where you end up in the shortened season. I think the only thing that matters, and we’ve learned this in the past, is peaking at the right time.”

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Nathan Walker waits to take the ice during the Capitals' development camp at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington on Monday, July 9, 2012. (Ryan M.L. Young/The Washington Times)

    Nathan Walker’s NHL dreams send him around the world

  • Washington Nationals' Anthony Rendon, third from left, smiles as he warms up with his teammates who were were wearing t-shirts in support of him for the All Star game before an interleague baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Nationals Park, Tuesday, July 8, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Anthony Rendon not an All-Star, but he’s been Nats’ MVP

  • Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter speaks during a media availability in the dugout before an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    LOVERRO: Suck-up Buck Showalter needs history lesson

  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Celebrities In The News
  • This image from video released by Funny Or Die shows President Obama, left, with actor-comedian Zach Galifianakis during an appearance on "Between Two Ferns," the digital short with a laser focus on reaching people aged 18 to 34. The president urged young people to sign up for the new health care plan through an appearance posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014, on the comic website Funny or Die, bypassing TV talk show titans like Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel for an online audience. (AP Photo/Funny Or Die)

    Obama’s ‘Ferns’ interview gets Emmy nod

  • ** FILE ** In this Nov. 12, 2013, file photo, actor Alec Baldwin leaves court in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

    Alec Baldwin in talks to play Rob Ford-like mayor in new NBC drama

  • Dinesh D'Souza's "America: Imagine the World Without Her" got promising reviews from two major Hollywood publications. It opens nationwide Wednesday.

    D’Souza on Costco debacle: ‘It was really bizarre’