Washington needs to reduce the number of penalties and improve their penalty kill. Their defense needs to play more like cheddar cheese than Swiss cheese. And someone better figure out what is wrong with the top line.
Here are four weaknesses the Washington Capitals must address during the 2013 NHL season.
Three of those penalties came in the third period as the Lightning pulled away to win 6-3.
But what was more disturbing was the fact that each of the eight penalties were taken by different Capitals players. That means the problem is systemic.
And this deficiency was not corrected during the Capitals' home opener against the Winnipeg Jets on January 22. The Caps took five minor penalties during the game, two in the first period alone. Of those five, one was a "two minute bench penalty for abuse of official" (ESPN) and another was an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
This problem with penalties must be corrected—and soon— if the Capitals are to succeed during this short season.
Tampa Bay celebrated two third period PPGs.
With a parade of Capitals marching in and out of the penalty box, there will be a tremendous amount of pressure placed on Washington's penalty-kill unit.
That being said, the Caps' penalty killers still have to do their job.
Through the first two games of the NHL season, that has not been the case.
The Caps surrendered three power-play goals against the Lightning on January 19, two of them coming in the third period.
And against the Jets on January 22, the Capitals gave up two more power-play markers, both of these coming in the first period of play.
The Caps' penalty kill is killing them right now.
Opponents have gotten too many open looks at goaltender Braden Holtby.
After all, the postseason star from only a few months ago already has a ghastly 5.04 goals-against-average with an anemic .863 save percentage.
But it is unfair to give Holtby all the blame, as the Capitals' defenders have let down their goaltender.
Washington has allowed 73 shots on goal in two games. As a result, 10 goals have been scored against them with the season only 120 minutes old.
If the Capitals' team defense does not improve, this short season will seem very long indeed.
Marcus Johansson has only one shot on goal through two games.
On paper, that's a formidable trio: equal parts blinding speed, pinpoint passing and world-class goalscoring.
But hockey is played on ice, not paper.
Perhaps the Capitals' top line should be reminded of that fact. After two games, the trio has combined for no goals, three points, 14 shots and a plus-minus rating of minus-five. Marcus Johansson has played so poorly that he was removed from the top line during Tuesday night's game, and recorded only 13 shifts and 10:30 of ice time.
Alex Ovechkin shared his thoughts on the first line's performance with Katie Carrera of The Washington Post following the season opener:
"...Our system and our skill level, we have to play better. We have lots of time [on] ice and we have to play better. We make some stupid plays out there sometimes in neutral zone and offensive zone. If you watch the whole game, we have only a couple rushes and we never stop in their zone. We never play [in] their zone. It’s blame on us.
If Ovechkin, Backstrom and Johansson simply produced, there would be nothing to blame them for. There would also be a lot more to cheer about for the Washington Capitals.