By Nelson Barnes II
To be a Capitals fan is to experience agitation, anxiety, and a quick run for the antacids. This season already has some in the fan-base calling it unpleasant or unconvincing after their team’s triumphant championship run. The fact that the defending 2018 Stanley Cup Champions lost their fifth game on Friday does not make it easier. At times, the Capitals look to be under a spell from their Stanley Cup win; it looks like they are slower than normal and lacking chemistry. Their losses have come down to mental mistakes, penalties, miscommunication, and a lack of finding their way to the opponents net. Having Tom Wilson out serving a 20-game suspension certainly doesn’t help. In recent years, losing to the Arizona Coyotes is never a good thing for any team and last night’s 4-1 drumming was particularly bad. Or, as Alan May put it in the latest Capitals Talk podcast: “That was hideous.”
The Spark Will Return
The defending champions are under a microscope by pundits and fans alike. There is no doubt about that because there are only so many ways to elaborate on a 7-5-3 record for a defending Cup champ. As a result, there will be impatience from the fan-base to find the root of the problem. To some, the losing is caused by Washington’s inability to find the spark that was ignited in the latter stages of last season. Fans are still expecting dominance and for the team to be a juggernaut – since most of its core from their championship team is still out on the ice. The Capitals current way of playing is grounds for concern, but panic shouldn’t be on the horizon.
Yes, they look slow and unable to recapture that stingy defense seen in both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Golden Knights playoff series in May and June. However, do not lose sight that this is only November, and the NHL is an 82-game season. Also, keep in mind that last year this team went on multiple frustrating losing streaks and even was down to elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals. The pursuit for a repeat is a marathon and not a sprint. Even though – after a spectacular – most fans would prefer to see an undefeated team right now – just sit tight. This is a long season and – most importantly – a season of ebbs and flows.
Hang in there, fans the season is young, and the team is still attempting to click. The sky has not fallen yet.