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SPORTS: Can't blame Caps performance on tryptophan

Monday - 11/28/2011, 4:16am  ET

Jonathan Warner, wtop.com

The Capitals ugly, uninspired play didn’t just start this Thanksgiving weekend.  It goes back to their last 15 games.

After a franchise record 7-0 start, the Caps have gone 5-10,  giving up at least four goals in seven of those losses – including seven goals twice.

It’s been especially ugly on the road where the Caps have lost four straight and seven of the last nine.

What’s going wrong?  Everything.

The defense is a sieve, the goaltending soft, scoring erratic and the necessary energy  M.I.A.

Who’s to  blame?  Everybody.

Accountability was supposed to be the operative word this season.  Apparently it hasn’t been taken to heart.  Coach Bruce Boudreau has taken a tougher stand this season, and there  seems to be a backlash.

Have they tuned him out?  If so, the second-quickest NHL coach to 200 wins could be gone.

How did this happen?

When Bruce was summoned from Hershey on Thanksgiving, 2007, he was a known commodity, winning the Calder Cup on the Hershey Bears with about half the players in the Caps locker room.  Now, only three of those players remain:  Brooks Laich, Mike Green, and Jeff Schultz.  The rest of the team hasn’t advanced past the second round of the NHL playoffs under Boudreau.

Maybe they have doubts about his ability to take them to the next level, or maybe this team isn’t as good or as tough as we thought.

When a team struggles, you look to see how it’s top players are fairing.  Alex Ovechkin has to take a lot of blame for what’s going on.   His play directly mirrors what’s happening to the Capitals with one goal and two assists over the past eight games.  The Caps are 2-6 during that span.  Ovi wasn’t Ovi last year when he scored a career-low 32 goals, and it’s carried over to this season.  He has eight in 22-games with a plus/minus ratio of minus-7.

If the Captain isn’t inspired, how can he lead the rest of the team?

The Capitals managed to rebound from their ugly December last year, changing their style of play and vaulting to the top of the Eastern Conference for the  second-straight year.  But, do they have it in them again, or do other changes have to be made?

We’ll find out very quickly.  The Capitals host St. Louis on Tuesday and Pittsburgh on Thursday.  The Blues are 7-1-2 since Ken Hitchcock took over as coach, while the Penguins have the best record in the NHL.

Oh, and that Sidney Crosby guy is back as well for the Pens.

Follow Jonathan Warner on Twitter @jonwarnerWTOP.