The Washington Capitals are limping to the finish of their first season without a trip to the NHL playoffs since the 2013-14 season and suffering defeats of 5-1, 5-2, 6-2, and 4-2 in recent games.
"I don't know, man, it's hard to say. On a systematic level, we just are having big, big breakdowns," Capitals center Nic Dowd said during his weekly appearance with 106.7 The Fan's Grant & Danny, which is presented exclusively by our partners at MainStreet Bank — Cheer Local. Bank Local. Put Our Team in Your Office.
The breakdowns forced the Capitals' "goalies to have to come up with really big saves [against] breakaways or 2-on-1s, like Grade-A opportunities right in the slot, just mental breakdowns where a guy misses a coverage," he said.
"It's honestly been a huge mix of different issues," Dowd told Grant & Danny, "it's kinda hard for me to point a finger at any one thing, but it's just re-occurred for the last like 30-something games. We have not played with a lead in so long and kept a lead and it's just been constantly digging ourselves out of holes, which regardless of playing a team-high in the standings or low in the standings is just impossible to do in the NHL."
Despite the Capitals' elimination from the playoffs, Dowd said he wasn't at all surprised when teammate Tom Wilson stuck up for him after he took a big shot against the Montreal Canadiens.
"Before I could even get off the ice Tommy was like whipping the guy around starring him down, so it was awesome to see, especially at this point of the season, we're eliminated from the playoffs, guys are still sticking up for each other, I would expect that with Tommy on the ice along with others," he said.
Dowd began the conversation with the art of letting the referee have it after his intended pass was deflected by the referee's leg and led to a Montreal goal last week.
"Like right when it happens it's kinda a head shake," Dowd said. "And then kinda like a stare. And then once I got close enough to him, shortly after I'm kinda skating by him and giving him words, too, telling him what he shoulda done and then he's telling me what I shoulda done. And then that kinda set me off and gave it to him and that set him off. So, we're big boys. S--- happens."
With three games left in the season, the Capitals host the New York Islanders Monday night before one last road trip to Boston on Tuesday (listen live on Team 980) before the season ends Thursday at home against the New Jersey Devils (listen live on 106.7 The Fan).