The good vibrations of "Jump Around" wafted out of the Washington Capitals' locker room shortly after their convincing 7-1 victory over the Florida Panthers Thursday. Yet, even after their most lopsided win of the season, they weren't interested in heeding House of Pain's advice.
"Of course everybody's happy, but we're not jumping around," forward Alex Ovechkin said.
No, the Capitals are firmly planted and fixated on the task at hand. After limping to an NHL-worst 2-8-1 start in its first 11 games, Washington is 8-3-0 in their last 11.
The Caps (10-11-1) have gained modest ground standings-wise, climbing from 15th in the Eastern Conference -- also known as last place -- on Feb. 7 to 11th place exactly one month later, so they understand that they can only take so much solace in their recent hot streak.
"We’re just happy that we’re winning games right now," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "We don’t want to be a .500 team. We want to be much above .500, so it’s just the first step.”
Just how focused are the Capitals? Even though they chased goaltender Jacob Markstrom after scoring two goals on their first two shots -- not to mention the fact that their three goals in the opening 5:10 and four in the opening 8:10 were both the fastest by one team to open a game this season -- forward Troy Brouwer felt that he and his teammates were "outplayed" in the beginning of the first period.
"Our concentration is there; our desire’s there," he added. "The guys were intense before the game. There’s no real joking around in this room anymore."
Coincidentally, the Capitals' recent 11-game stretch began with a players-only meeting (and another drubbing of the Panthers, a 5-0 win Feb. 9) where they created a safe haven for anybody and everybody to air their grievances.
They preached sticking to head coach Adam Oates' system, and minus one hiccup -- a 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers Feb. 27 -- they have not deviated from the game plan.
"We had a wakeup call along the way and whether it was looking at where we were in the standings or not being happy with ourselves, guys realize that when it comes to the end of April, we don’t want to be watching, we want to be playing," Brouwer said. "We had a little transition period where we needed to learn the systems, I thought maybe we took a little bit longer than we should have, but guys are buying in, guys can see what the system can do and what the team can do and now we’re playing to our potential right now."
As for Oates, he's all business as well. He doesn't plan on resting on his team's laurels or holding onto Thursday's game film like some sort of keepsake.
"We've got to throw the tape away," he said. "The league's not that easy. We've got to remove that."
So the Capitals may not be completely taking House of Pain's suggestions, but there is one thing that does ring true: They came to win.
Battle them? That's a sin.
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