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Capitals Return From Day Off With Forward Focus
A three-game winning streak ended on Sunday with a road loss to the New York Rangers, and with a shortened season, players are finding a tough balance between resting playing.
BY ZAC BOYER
ARLINGTON – The first three-day break of the season provided the Washington Capitals with a day off on Monday – something players appreciated given the physical constraints of the schedule, but did not want because of the way they’ve played.
“Yeah, it would have been nice to keep the momentum going, but at the same time, it’s nice to have a couple days to kind of breathe a little bit,” said defenseman Tom Poti. “We’ve had a lot of games in a short bit of time, so it’s nice for guys to heal up their bruises and nicks and bumps and stuff like that. I think it’s been good for everybody, and I think it’s going to help us because we’ve got a lot of big games coming up.”
The Capitals’ three-game win streak ended Sunday with a 2-1 road loss to the New York Rangers – one in which the team was outshot 40-28, with the Rangers taking 20 shots in the first period alone.
That loss followed a pair of victories over Florida, one at home and one on the road, and a road win at Tampa Bay on Thursday.
Center Brooks Laich hasn’t played all season because of a groin injury sustained while playing in Switzerland during the lockout, while winger Marcus Johansson has been battling an undisclosed upper-body injury over the past week and defenseman Mike Green sustained a lower-body injury, believed to be a pulled groin, Thursday at Tampa Bay.
Washington (5-9-1), with 11 points, is still tied with Winnipeg for last in the Eastern Conference. None of its five victories have come against a team currently in the playoff picture, though the upcoming three-game homestand – two games against New Jersey, one against Carolina – will be a test.
“We need to find ways to win against those teams,” winger Troy Brouwer said. “You know, we thought last game we had little glimmers of good play, but we got out-worked, and they just had a lot of good persistence around the puck last game. We’ve got to find that in our game, and we’ve got to find a way to get points against good hockey clubs because where we are isn’t good enough.”
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