Washington Capitals vs Penguins: Time to Answer the Wake up Call

Jakub Vrana, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jakub Vrana, Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

After losing to the Penguins with their first fully healthy roster since week one, it’s time the Washington Capitals accept the wake up call and respond.

With the return of Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie, Lars Eller and Justin Schultz the Washington Capitals were fully healthy and ready to compete for the first time since the first week of the season. Coincidently they were also playing the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the outcome was similar only worse in the final score with a 6-3 loss Sunday.

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The Washington Capitals started out the scoring with a group of the recently injured or attendee’s on the COVID list, with Kuznetsov scoring his second of the season off assists from Lars Eller and Justin Schultz. But this would be the only lead the Capitals would hold in the game. Jakub Vrana got the Capitals back into the game by scoring to open the second period to tie the score. However, other than Backstrom adding one more goal the rest of the game would be all Pittsburgh.

This game should serve as a warning for the Washington Capitals to take their losing streak seriously, now that they can not hide behind the lack of health. Even after all the roster changes and new coaching staff the same old Capitals are still holding back from playing a full 60 minutes. For the most part, it all comes back to bad positioning and more speed out of desperation over strategic speed to produce high quality scoring chances. These could be attributed to what directly resulted in the two first period goals and two second period goals by the Penguins. Even when the Capitals got their first two goals they appeared to materialize out of luck more so than proper setup and execution.

After a once strong start, Vitek Vanecek has cooled of late with a save percentage of 0.839 % and a GAA of 3.75 over the four game losing streak.  It may be time to give the previous number one Samsonov a shot at goal again giving Vanecek a much needed break. Even though for the most part Vanecek should be relieved of the responsibility as he has been left out to dry more times than not. This should be seen more as a wake up call for the whole team to step it up or be ready to make room for those who will make the effort throughout the entire game. If nothing else those players on the bubble of the protection list should be looking at the remainder of the season as a tryout to remain with the team or at the very least make them think hard about keeping them safe.

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Will the Capitals take this for what it is and a much needed chance at retribution for a season series heavy in favor of the Pittsburgh Penguins?  Here is how to find out:

Date: February 16, 2021
Time: 7 p.m. EST
Where: PPG Paints Arena
TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Washington
Radio: Caps Radio 24/7
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