By: Ben Raby
WASHINGTON – Capitals forward Mike Knuble was brutally honest in his postgame assessment after the Dallas Stars beat the Caps 5-2 Tuesday at Verizon Center.
Knuble was critical of the Caps defensive effort against Dallas and suggested that if things don’t change, the Caps two-game losing streak could quickly spiral into something worse.
“It’s like embarrassing when you’re on the ice and guys are beating you,” Knuble said.
“[We’re] just playing like a bunch of losers. You’re going to lose if you play like that – you’re going to lose every night in the league. Let alone talking about playoffs and all that. You’ll lose every night in the league and I think we all went through that last year.”
The Capitals were outshot 36-32, but the Stars it seemed were in control of the game for much of the night. Dallas used its speed to gain the Washington zone, and once inside the blue line the Stars kept mounting pressure on a Capitals bunch that appeared just a step slower.
“It takes a commitment,” Knuble said of playing better defensively. “We practice it in practice. We can’t say we’re not prepared. We know what we’re doing, we talk about it- we watch film about it. And then it’s just a commitment to doing it on the ice. Maybe through the first five games I felt top to bottom it was a better commitment. Of late, I don’t know if we’re all committed.”
After winning seven straight games to begin the season, the Caps have lost four of their last six. They have also allowed at least four goals in four of their last five games.
“It’s sad to say, and we all look bad because of the result – because we don’t all commit. We look great when we’re all committing. We look all like a bunch of clowns when we don’t. A very average team when we’re not all committed.”
Knuble also suggested that there is a lack of urgency among his teammates.
“I don’t know if it’s because it’s November – there’s not that urgency yet. Nobody’s really under the gun at all. We still feel like the season’s early.”
With Tuesday’s win in D.C., the Stars improved to an NHL-best 11-3-0 on the season. Free agent signee Michael Ryder scored twice and combined with linemates Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn for six points, a plus-six rating and 15 shots on goal.
The Capitals No.1 line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Troy Brouwer meanwhile had one assist between them, while combining for a minus-six rating and seven shots on goal.
Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen also continued his strong start to the season, stopping 30 of 32 shots while earning his league leading 11th win (11-1, 2.13 goals-against-average and .936 save percentage).
The Stars have won four straight and are 2-0-0 on their current four-game road trip which also includes stops in Pittsburgh on Friday, and Detroit on Saturday.
AVS WATCH 2012:
Johan Franzen had a hat trick and Jimmy Howard made 24 saves as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2. Colorado has lost four straight and six of seven overall as the Avs drop to 7-7-1 on the year.
The Capitals received Colorado’s first round pick in next June’s NHL Entry Draft as part of the deal that sent goalie Semyon Varlamov to Denver last summer.
Varlamov is on a personal four-game losing streak, and was pulled in the second period Tuesday after allowing three goals on 16 shots. The Avs host the New York Islanders (4-6-2) on Thursday.
Catch the Capitals and Devils Friday at 7:05. Coverage begins with Caps Pregame on Federal News Radio, 1500AM and online at www.wfed.com.