George McPhee Addresses State of Capitals After 2-8-1 Start

After the Washington Capitals lost their third straight game Thursday to fall to an NHL-worst 2-8-1 this season, general manager George McPhee addressed the media on Friday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Below is a transcript of some of his comments:

On his assessment of the Capitals through 11 games:

"With respect to the way we’re playing [with regards to] systems, I like the way we’re playing. I think if you’re watching, our team has really adjusted to the system pretty quickly. We wanted it right away, but it’s quicker than we were hoping for. The issue with our club right now, in my mind, is all these penalties that we’re taking. It’s too much.

"We’re playing a good game and then we start taking penalties and we take them in bunches. No system, no coach, no team can survive that. We’ve given up the most shorthanded goals in the league and for good reason: We’re taking too many. It’s too hard on the goaltenders and it’s too hard on the team."

On the goaltenders -- Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby -- and Washington's league-worst 3.73 goals allowed per game:

"They’ve got to be better. We think we’ve done a real good job of developing them. They’ve had their time in [AHL] Hershey. There is upside there with these goaltenders. But they can both play better and they know it. And it’s time for them to play."

On if he feels that the talent on the Capitals is better than the record suggests:

"I do, yeah. I thought, and still believe, that this is a solid team if we play the way we can play. We’re just not playing well enough. I really like the coaches, I love what they’re doing and I like the way that we’re playing in terms of our system. We don’t spend a lot of time in our zone, we protect our defensemen, we’re consistently out chancing the other team and we’re getting more attacks than we’ve had, so we’re doing a lot of things well. But the penalties and [lack of] timely saves -- the goaltenders have to be better -- are hurting the club right now.'

On Alex Ovechkin switching to the right wing this season after seven years of playing left wing:

"I really like it. I really like the way Alex has played the last four games. Adam [Oates] is convinced that he can get him playing the way that Ovi can play and a couple of these are the best that we’ve seen him in a long time. I thought that he was really good last night, he had a lot of scoring chances, he had a lot of touches and he’s playing physical. In the first period, I think he had three quality scoring chances alone. He’s getting a lot more chances on the right side than the left. He’s a much more effective player. I like it a lot. You may disagree but it looks a lot better to us."

On the respective injury statuses of Brooks Laich (groin), Dmitry Orlov (upper-body) and Jack Hillen (upper-body):

"Just hoping [Laich] can get in the lineup soon. It’d be nice to have him. Everybody has their injuries but we started with two guys out in Laich and Orlov before we even got going. Certainly Brooks would be a big help right now but we’ll have to wait a little bit longer. He’s improving and hopefully we’ll see him soon. [Orlov] is working out and skating, coming along. I was told a week ago it might be another month. [Jack Hillen] That one’s going to be longer. That’s another 6-8 weeks. That’s a significant injury."

On the ownership's response to the slow start and if he is looking into any short-term solutions: 

"If there’s something I can do to make the club better, I will. Had some real good discussions with ownership over the last couple of days. They’re obviously not very happy. But they’ve been supportive. At times like this ownership can pile on and make things worse. Or ownership can say ‘How can we help and what we can do to make it better?’ And it’s been the latter. It’s been ‘How can we help? What can we do to make it better?’ And I provided some options, and they provided some real fair direction, which was great. So that being said, if there’s something I can do to help the club out, I will. But I’m not gonna do anything stupid.

"The opinions that matter are the coaching staff and our pro scouts and ownership. We’re all on the same page. We’re disappointed with the way things have started. It’s not over. Nothing that a couple of wins won’t really help. But we’re going to make good decisions. We’re not going to do anything short term. We’re not going to blow anything up. We like the people here. Just got to be smart about how we do it. We’ve made a lot of good decisions over the last five or six years. Hopefully we made good decisions this year."

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