Can the Capitals regain their championship form?

Chris Lingebach
February 21, 2020 - 6:18 pm
Can the Capitals regain their championship form?

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

As the Capitals continue to squander opportunities, Carl Hagelin hopes – with their season rounding third toward the home stretch – the significance of their remaining schedule kicks them back into gear.

"I think playing good hockey is what we need to get back to," Hagelin said during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance, presented by F.H. Furr

"Over the last 20 or so games we've been a .500 team, and that's not the type of team we want to be," he said. "We need to get back to winning more games. We can't win one and then lose the next one. That's not the type of team we are. I think if we take care of the way we need to play and we get back to playing well, the points will come for sure."

As Hagelin noted earlier this season, the latter quarter of their season is loaded with divisional games, making each that much more impactful toward the final standings.

Out of their remaining 22 regular-season games, only seven are non-conference games. Eight are against Metro Division opponents, including three games against the Penguins, who jumped the Caps in the standings this week. As of Friday, Pittsburgh and Washington were once again tied with 80 points apiece, but the Pens still have one game in hand. The Caps have now lost 11 of their last 21 games.

Asked how far off they are from returning to their early season form – when the Caps played to a .709 winning percentage through their first 31 games – Hagelin said, "I don't think it's too far away, you know."

"You go back two-and-a-half to two months and not a whole lot has changed since then," he said. "Maybe the mindset has changed a little bit, which happens during the year. We know we're capable of doing it, so we can't be too far away from it. We're getting close to the playoffs and these games mean that much more, so hopefully that's a reminder to each and every player on our team to just start playing better, especially defensively."

The presence of a strong stable of veterans in the Caps locker room is what has kept them from panicking.

"Absolutely," Hagelin said. "I think a lot of the guys on this team have been through ups and downs throughout their career, and you know it's not gonna be just a straight path. Especially an 82-game season, you know you're gonna have your bad games."

"But at the same time, as a veteran player and as a leader, you need to show up," he continued. "These are the big games of the year, so you really have to turn things around and it starts with us older guys and us leaders. But yeah, I think if it was just a bunch of young guys on the team, there'd probably be more panic, yeah."

Hagelin begins at the 33:15 mark below.