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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Kings

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3 reasons why the Caps lost to the Kings

The Caps saw their three-game win streak snapped on Thursday in a 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings. It was a game in which Washington led 1-0 and 2-1, but they were unable to close out the Kings. Here's why.

9 seconds in the second period

In a span of just a few seconds, the Caps went from leading 2-1 to down 3-2. In the second period, Braden Holtby retrieved the puck behind the net, but did not clear it and instead hit it off the wall to the blue line where Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid was able to pounce on it. MacDermid shot the puck quickly and it deflected off of Johnny Brodzinski and through the five-hole of Holtby. After the ensuing faceoff, Jussi Jokinen managed to sneak his way behind Madison Bowey who was caught out of position. A pass from Trevor Lewis sprung Jokinen who beat Holtby through the five-hole again. Two goals from the Kings and it came in a span of just nine seconds. That is tough swing for anyone to overcome.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-KINGS

The Caps defense lost Kings players behind them

As mentioned above, Jokinen was able to sneak behind Bowey for the Kings' third goal of the game, but that was not the first time the Caps defense lost track of someone. In the first period, the Caps had possession of the puck in the offensive zone, but when it looked like the Kings may gain the puck on a battle along the boards, Marion Gaborik did not hesitate. He was up near the blue line and decided to gamble as he made his way up ice and behind Brooks Orpik who looked like he had no idea Gaborik was behind him. Gaborik took the pass, again from Lewis, and was off to the races. Holtby made the initial save, but the rebound bounced off of Tyler Graovac and over the shoulder of Holtby. Of Los Angeles' three goals, two of them were the result of a forward getting in behind the defense.

MORE CAPITALS: NATHAN WALKER WAIVED BY CAPS, LOOKS TO BE BOUND FOR HERSHEY

Jonathan Quick

Quick is one of those goalies who sparks a lot of debate. Some people think he's the best goalie in the NHL. Others think he is too inconsistent and makes simple saves look harder than they need to be. Wherever you stand on him, he was certainly on his game Thursday. Quick made 27 saves including a handful of brilliant stops that ultimately kept the Kings ahead. One moment in particular stood out in the third period when he made a diving stop on Christian Djoos to prevent the late, game-tying goal.

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Barry Trotz explains why returning from a bye week is harder than you think

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Barry Trotz explains why returning from a bye week is harder than you think

The biggest storyline surrounding the Capitals coming out of the bye week is how much the team seems to hate lengthy breaks.

By now you probably have heard Washington has lost three straight out of the bye. In addition to that, there have been three stretches this season in which the Caps have had to wait at least five days for their next contest. They lost two of those three games and they did so in decisive fashion.

Caps played Oct. 21, lost next game on Oct. 26 at Vancouver 6-2
Caps played Nov. 25, lost next game on Nov. 30 vs. Los Angeles 5-2
Caps played Jan. 2, won next game vs. St. Louis 4-3 in overtime

This also is not a new problem. Coming out of the bye week last season, Washington lost its first two games back and then went on to lose eight of 14 before they finally got back on track.

RELATED: WHERE DO THE CAPS LAND IN THE LATEST NHL POWER RANKINGS?

But why? Aren’t breaks in the schedule a good thing? After all, the bye week was negotiated for by the Players’ Association.

On Tuesday after practice, Barry Trotz tried to explain the difficulties of returning from the bye.

“The best way I can describe it is it's not different than someone going on a 2-week vacation. You come back to work and the first couple days, not really productive, right?

“You know how it is, when you get back, it's hard to get back in that routine.”

The bye week in hockey is different than what we see in football. In addition to no games, the players do not even practice. They do not get the benefit of a having a week of practice before the next game like in the NFL.

This year in Washington’s case, the Caps did not even get a chance to practice before returning to game action as they were forced to cancel practice the day before their game in New Jersey due to travel issues.

“You lose a little bit of that edge, a little bit of that sharpness,” Trotz said. “You lose a little bit of everything and then when it's over 20 guys, then all of a sudden it's difficult.”

Evgeny Kuznetsov also noted how the team struggles in January and February as an additional explanation.

“Physically we're pretty good and emotionally we're pretty good,” he said. “It's just those moments. If you look at the last 3 years I've been here, it's every year the same [expletive], same time. Always those 10-15 games in late January, early February it's always been wasn't great for us.”

MORE CAPITALS: TROTZ LIKES WHAT VRANA BRINGS EVEN IF THE ICE TIME ISN'T THERE

You do often hear about the “dog days” of a season when it suddenly becomes hard for teams to stay motivated every single night with half the season still to go. Now add in a bye week and you can understand why it may be hard for the players to ramp up the intensity level.

The added obstacle for Washington is they now face another break with the All-Star Game. Thursday’s game in Florida will be the team’s only game in a nine-day period.

With the Metropolitan Division standings as tight as they are, the Caps likely cannot afford another stretch of eight losses in 14 games like they suffered last year.

It’s interesting to see a team struggle after having too much time off. It’s a problem most people reading this probably wish they had. But it’s one that’s not quite as easy to overcome as you may think.

“I just think from the last couple years with the breaks in it, you understand that it's not just, hey you had a break, you should be fresh when you go on the ice,” Trotz said. “Unless you've played the game, it's hard to explain to people.”

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

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NHL Power Rankings: The Caps are singing the bye week blues

A Capitals team that struggles after lengthy breaks is now indeed struggling after its return from the bye week. Since returning on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils, the Caps have lost three straight games including two at home with only two points to show for their efforts.

Heading into the bye, Washington looked like one of the top teams in the NHL with 14 wins in 19 games. Now, they have taken a step back and are working at returning to the level they were playing just a week ago.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

Oh, and to make matters worse, the Caps do not play again until Thursday and then are off for the All-Star break.

It's Jan. 22 and Washington has only two more games this month. Even if they do figure things out on Thursday against the Florida Panthers, they will have to figure it out all over again when they return from the All-Star break on Jan. 31 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

So where do the Caps rank after their recent slide and how far could they fall if they do not right the ship? Find out here in this week's NHL Power Rankings!