The Washington Capitals have worked hard to establish a reputation as a successful NHL contender. As an automatic playoff contender in recent years, few expected them to face their current daunting situation.

The Capitals have the potential to become a powerful team in the Eastern Conference, but at the moment, they are not. They+4000 to win the Stanley Cup and have equal odds to make it in the postseason or not, per DraftKings Sportsbook.

With one game left before heading into the All-Star Break, Washington is struggling. They have an uninspiring 6-7-1 record this month. The once comfortable Eastern Conference standing cushion is gone and they only cling to a Wild Card spot by one point over the Pittsburgh Penguins and two points over the Buffalo Sabres. Even more precarious – teams like the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers are quickly making their way up in the standings just below them.

Fortunately, the Capitals secure an OT win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in their recent game behind Trevor Van Riemsdyk’s two goals. They failed to cover the spread, while the total has gone over. However, their recent game will not solve the problem, a long-term consistency does.

“Lots of guys in here haven’t not made playoffs in quite a while, so that’s not a trend we would like to start,” T.J. Oshie said.

What’s Wrong with the Caps?

The absence of key players has been a tough blow for the Capitals, but their current difficulty is not all about missing pieces. The power play’s dip in production and the team’s inconsistent defensive coverage have been sources of frustration, providing further evidence that there remain areas where improvement is necessary.

Moreover, inconsistency throughout each contest has become an issue—while they’ve shown flashes of solid play at certain points during games, ultimately they lack consistency and are unable to maintain momentum. It’s imperative that these issues be addressed in order to make progress and regain the level of success that once looked so promising.

Ultimately, the lack of chemistry is noticeable at times. Players tend to overdo plays which results in turnovers and kills their momentum. These give room for opponents, and before they know it, they find themselves in an unfavorable position.

“We just need to simplify a little bit,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “Be a little bit quicker and make sure we don’t get stuck in our own zone. If we can do that, hopefully, we’ll create some more offense. Capitalize, that’s the key.”

Oshie agreed, he highlighted that when things aren’t going right, simplifying it will always help.

“Especially early in the game, early in periods, simplifying the game creates a little bit more of a playoff atmosphere where there’s more forechecking, there’s more hitting, there’s less turnovers and that game script is always going to steer the team in the right direction,” he added.

Winning Consistently

The Washington Capitals have realized that to get out of their win-loss pattern, they must not only carry momentum over from game to game but also put forth a full effort each night.

Backstrom noted the importance of winning streaks, as with the competition being so fierce, getting two or three wins in a row could be just what the Capitals need to put them ahead in the standings.

Furthermore, Eller mentioned that every game holds its own gravity as these are truly games of consequence. The Capitals must learn to perform at an expert level if they wish to make it past this dry spell and reach a NHL-playoff spot.

“It starts with commitment to each other,” Oshie said. “Commitment to play in our game, to play the right way.”