3 Changes Adam Oates Must Make for the Washington Capitals to Contend

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3 Changes Adam Oates Must Make for the Washington Capitals to Contend
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Don't look now, but the Washington Capitals might just be on the upswing.

Perhaps Adam Oates' system is not so flawed after all.

After being trounced twice by their archrivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in less than a week, many were ready to declare the season lost and many were calling for Adam Oates' head on the proverbial silver platter.

Just about a week ago, the Caps were the worst team in the NHL and could seem to do nothing right. Alexander Ovechkin was struggling, as was the entire offense. The defense was not much better, and the team was drawing penalties at a very alarming rate.

It's funny how winning a few games suddenly makes everything better.

A 5-0 shutout of the defending Southeast division champion Florida Panthers seemed to do something to the Caps.

For the first time all season, the Caps scored more than three goals in a game.

For the first time all season, a Caps' goaltender played really well as Braden Holtby notched the shutout.

For one game, the Caps looked like the Caps of old. The question then centered on whether they could actually win two games in a row.

The Caps did win their second in a row with a stirring, comeback, 6-5 overtime win against the Panthers in Sunrise on Tuesday night.

It wasn't just the fact that the Caps won that made the game so important—it was the way the Caps won that was so huge.

They won on the road for the first time all season. They refused to quit despite being down by two goals late in the third period. They showed the emotion and heart that had been missing up until then. Alex Ovechkin scored the game-tying goal, running his points scoring streak to five games. The power play continued to produce at a blistering pace.

All in all, it was a great victory and something on which the Caps could start to build some momentum.

The Caps then won their third straight game Thursday night, dropping the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. In doing so, the Caps avenged the opening night loss to the Lightning that got the Caps off to such an ugly start to the season.

Suddenly, the Caps are now 5-8-1. They are no longer the worst team in the NHL. They sit just four points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Momentum is definitely building, and there is no doubt the Caps are playing better, particularly the power play.

What kind of changes must Adam Oates make to continue the Capitals forward surge going and keep them in contention for a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference?

Here are three changes—or perhaps just suggestions—that coach Adam Oates can make in order for the Caps to contend for the playoffs this season.

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