Capitals

Quick Links

Why that postgame expletive from mild-mannered Philipp Grubauer is understandable

usatsi_10381136_141983962_lowres.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Why that postgame expletive from mild-mannered Philipp Grubauer is understandable

Tuesday’s game in Buffalo was a frustrating loss for the Capitals and no one took it hard as goalie Philipp Grubauer.

Grubauer was once again put in a difficult situation by starting the second end of a back-to-back and once again, he took the loss. In five starts this season, his record is now 0-4-1 and he took it pretty hard.

MORE: FOUR REASONS WHY THE CAPS LOST TO THE SABRES

Grubauer is typically very even-keeled and calm after games. It doesn’t matter if he was in a blowout, a shutout, the preseason or the postseason, he always tends to be calm after games.  To hear him vent his frustration was striking, but also understandable.

The Caps have not been losing because of Grubauer, they’ve been losing despite him. The German netminder turned aside 29 of the 31 shots he faced on Tuesday in what was another strong performance by him. Grubauer has been good in every appearance except for the Philadelphia Flyers game in which no one played well. If you exclude that game, he has registered a .914 save percentage.

Another reason for the frustration is the fact that he has not been getting much help from the offense.

RELATED: OVI AND TWO MORE OF THE GAME'S STARS

A Capitals team that is averaging 3.00 goals per game scored only once in Buffalo. In his five starts this season, the Caps have scored only eight goals. Total. That’s an average of 1.6 goals per game. Any goalie in the NHL would struggle to win with that little support.

Grubauer’s frustration did not seem to be directed at his teammates, however, but just at the situation. Four of his five starts have been the second leg of back to back games. He is the backup goalie so of course he is going to be tasked with those difficult assignments, but that can still wear on a player. This is a team used to winning and a goalie who has his sights set on being a starter eventually becoming a No. 1 goalie.

Starting five games without a single win to show for it would frustrate anyone. And with one word on Tuesday night, Grubauer pointedly expressed his feelings.

Quick Links

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

usatsi_10551074.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

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!

Quick Links

Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

vrana_capture.png
USA TODAY Sports

Think Jakub Vrana's ice time shows Barry Trotz was unhappy with his play? Think again

It was a bit of a surprise to see Jakub Vrana in the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers. On Saturday in practice, Barry Trotz mixed his lines up and it appeared that Vrana would be the odd-man out. On Sunday, however, when the team took to the ice for warmups prior to the game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Vrana lined up on the fourth line with Jay Beagle and Devante Smith-Pelly.

Did the near scratch spark Vrana to more production? Not exactly.

RELATED: HERE'S WHY THE CAPS LOST TO PHILADELPHIA

Vrana played a career-low 6:25 against the Flyers. He had zero shot attempts or hits. There were only two stats on his stat line from the final box score: One giveaway and one drawn penalty.

Despite that, Trotz was complimentary of the 21-year-old forward following the game.

"What I like about Jake, he competed," Trotz said. "I know he doesn't have the minutes tonight, but he competed and that's what the message was. I met with him this morning and a little bit on the ice the other day and I just said the skill doesn't come out unless that level of desperation and compete is there night in, night out and then you'll have production. He didn't get a lot of ice time, but I was happy with his effort."

Trotz said Vrana's ice time was low because he the team was "hard matching" later in the game against Philadelphia. It was not because of how he played.

MORE CAPITALS: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-FLYERS

But ultimately, the key is to get Vrana producing again and the fourth line is not the best place to spark that. Vrana has only one point in his last 12 games which is why it seemed to make sense that he would be a healthy scratch on Sunday. For a player with his offensive skill, it is harder for him to make an impact on that back line given the limited minutes and the more defensive role. Ultimately he has to play in the top-nine in order to reach his potential on a game by game basis.

If Trotz wanted to spark more compete and more effort from Vrana, the move to the fourth line may have done the trick. But did he play well enough to warrant moving back into the top-nine? That's the ultimate question.