4 Reasons to Believe the Washington Capitals Can Come Back in 2013

Robert Wood@@bleachRWreachrCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2013

4 Reasons to Believe the Washington Capitals Can Come Back in 2013

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    The Washington Capitals began the 2013 NHL season with a thud.

    The Caps lost their first three games—by a combined score of 14-6—and were the last NHL team to register a point in the standings.

    But the Caps are showing signs of life. Washington now has 11 points after 15 games.

    Here are four reasons to believe the Washington Capitals can come back in 2013

4. The Comeback Has Begun

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    The Washington Capitals began the 2013 schedule 0-3-0 and were the last team in the NHL to earn a point in the standings.

    By the 11th game of the season, the Caps were 2-8-1 and had earned only five of a possible 22 points in the standings.

    At the time, that record placed the Capitals last in both the Southeast Division and the Eastern Conference.

    But since that game, the Caps are 3-1-0 and now have 11 of a possible 30 points.

    Things are beginning to look up.

3. In Good Position

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    The Capitals currently have 11 points and are still last in the Eastern Conference standings, as of Tuesday night's action.

    However, the Caps are in pretty good shape.

    A mere four points separates the bottom seven teams in the conference, all of whom would miss the playoffs if they began tomorrow.

    Plus, the Capitals are only six points behind both the eighth-place New York Rangers and the third-place Carolina Hurricanes, who are in third on the basis of leading the Southeast Division.

    If the Caps continue winning, they can steadily climb the standings. 

2. Learning the System

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    Adam Oates represents the third head coach for the Washington Capitals in about 15 months.

    And each coach has brought with him a different system for the players to learn and assimilate into.

    The Capitals have taken little time to learn Adam Oates' system, caused in part by the shortened training camp and lack of preseason, and evidenced by the team's slow start.

    But there is hope. Before Adam Oates officially became head coach of the Washington Capitals, he was named co-coach of the Hershey Bears, the Capitals' AHL affiliate. Oates coached alongside Hershey Bears head coach Mark French for a total of six weeks.

    Mark French spoke to Ian Oland of Russian Machine Never Breaks on January 7, explaining what he thought Capitals fans should expect of Oates' system:

    I think it takes time to implement a new system...guys are trying to understand this new system, but they’re not reacting to it. We’re getting to the point where guys know it now, they know what they need to do. So I think it takes some time. I think the NHL player can maybe make the jump a little bit quicker. You know, it’s a proven system. New Jersey used it last year and went a long ways. I think there’s some really good parts. I think it’ll play really well into some of the Capitals more skilled players for sure.

1. Trust and Believe

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    For Adam Oates, the implementation of his system with the Washington Capitals had two prerequisites, as he explained to David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail:

    First of all, you’ve got to respect them. You’ve got to respect who it is, and I do. You’ve got to get his trust, which is second, and when he trusts you, you can try to provide information. It’s not about changing anybody. It’s about adding to their game. But until they trust you, there’s going to be a wall there, and I understand that.

    With no player was that respect and trust more important than with Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals' captain and leading scorer. This became even more important when Ovechkin realized that Oates would convert him to a right wing as he did with friend and fellow countryman Ilya Kovalchuk during the 2011-12 season. Kovalchuk saw his point total increase by 23 from the season before.

    But as Ovechkin explained to David Shoalts, he felt an immediate bond with Adam Oates:

    I just feel trust. It’s the most important thing for any player. When you feel trust for your coach it’s unbelievable and you want to go play for him right away. When I met him I just felt it. 

    This bond between coach and captain can further fuel the Washington Capitals on their comeback.