Laughlin: Caps must correct their mindset, soon

Chris Lingebach
March 10, 2020 - 4:03 pm
Laughlin: Caps must correct their mindset, soon

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

As the Capitals continue to slog through their remaining regular-season schedule, it will be their mindset that ultimately bails them out, TV analyst Craig Laughlin says.

After apparently turning a corner Saturday against Pittsburgh, Washington reverted back to the substandard version of itself in a 3-2 shootout loss to Buffalo Monday night. The Caps have strung together consecutive wins only once over their past 20 contests.

This Jekyll and Hyde identity crisis has been a nagging constant since January. Proponents for the Caps to turn it around for the better have sounded like a broken record, calling for greater 'intensity' and an uptick in 'focus' with the pacing of a metronome. Although, that doesn't make them wrong.

"It is a broken record and that's a hard thing to put your finger on," Laughlin told 106.7 The Fan's 'Grant & Danny during his weekly appearance, presented by American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning. "I think the players know exactly what they have to do. The coaching staff is very detailed in how they want their team to play."

"And case in point," he continued, "you throw it back to Pittsburgh – which arguably that was the best game in two and a half months – where they did everything they did early on in the season when we were raving about them, that they played with speed, that they had energy, that they were in on the forecheck, that the stretch passes were limited.

"If you watch the Pittsburgh game, in the first 40 minutes there was maybe seven stretch passes, meaning that the Capitals... I mentioned this last night. The Buffalo Sabres coach came into the season saying 'we want to play connected.' That was sort of a thing that they have in their minds going into the season."

"That's what you have to do," Laughlin said. "You have to be connected, and I thought 'connected' was a perfect way to describe the game against Pittsburgh. If you noticed, there was a lot of short, crisp passes. Everything was on the take. They executed two-on-ones."

Circling back to what's missing in their game, Laughlin said, "I think, if I have to say, that it's sort of a mindset of, 'Oh, we're gonna win anyways. We can just play 40 or 20 minutes and we have the talent to come back and just win.' And that to me is because they are a veteran team, they won a Stanley Cup for the majority of players in the lineup and they think they can just turn it on."

"I would say that's not the case because you want to go into the playoffs hot," he added. "I really think that's important. So I think it's probably the mindset of the team and the players and the veterans on the team, and that has to change down the stretch here."

Laughlin begins at the 32-minute mark below.