ARLINGTON, Va. -- Washington Capitals coach Adam Oates, typically calm and collected in demeanor, was visibly agitated after his team's 6-4 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday. It was a game in which the Capitals unraveled, blowing a 3-1 first-period lead by being undisciplined and taking their foot off the proverbial gas.
"If the guys don't know that we let one get away," Oates said on Wednesday, "shame on them."
The Capitals, who are in the midst of a season-long four-game losing streak, did not meet on Thursday, which allowed Oates' message to marinate as they sat down for Thanksgiving dinner.
"He gave us the day to think about it," right wing Troy Brouwer said. "He didn't say anything to us after the game. I think the guys already knew what to feel and what to think, to be honest."
When the Capitals reconvened for an 8:15 meeting at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Friday morning, Oates "solidified that [their recent play is] not good enough," according to Brouwer, but then quickly shifted his attention toward their next opponent, the Montreal Canadiens, who defeated them 3-2 this past Friday at Verizon Center.
"We talked more about Montreal than we did about the other night," Oates said. "It's weird, but it's difficult to address that game when it's on game day again. They had a day off, so their minds go elsewhere. Like I talked about, if guys weren't upset after the game [Wednesday], then shame on them to begin with, so hopefully they thought about it and today we turned a new page and just focused on Montreal."
It was a conscious decision by Oates not to dwell on yet another frustrating defeat, instead moving on in an effort to deliver a fresh message, one he hopes will finally permeate.
"The messages are almost always the same," he said. "You just try and say the same things in a different fashion. Hopefully a light bulb goes on somewhere for somebody. It's hard to spin the same speech every day.
"[The coaching staff's] job is to try and provide information, and no question you get stale saying the same thing. You have to try and come up with different ways to say it. When you're losing, it's harder because everybody's a little sour, and winning it's easier. There's always ways to do it. We tried a different approach this morning."
Here are the projected lineups for the Capitals and Canadiens.
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin
Eric Fehr – Mikhail Grabovski – Troy Brouwer
Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Joel Ward
Aaron Volpatti – Michael Latta – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Alexander Urbom – Mike Green
Nate Schmidt – Tyson Strachan
Scratched: Martin Erat, Steve Oleksy
Injured: Brooks Laich (lower body), John Erskine (knee), Jack Hillen (fractured tibial plateau)
Notes: Laich did not participate in Washington's morning skate and will not play Friday for the first time this season as a precautionary measure after experiencing some lower-body discomfort.
"He had a little tightness the other day [and] he played," Oates said. "He felt pretty good [Thursday] morning, and then last night, it was just a little tight. Hopefully, just precautionary and nothing major there."
Oates is hopeful Laich, who missed all but nine games last season with a problematic groin injury, will return Saturday when the Capitals visit the New York Islanders.
Jay Beagle, who last played Oct. 16, will replace Laich on the third line.
Daniel Briere – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brendan Gallagher
Alex Galchenyuk – Lars Eller – Brandon Prust
Travis Moen – Ryan White – Michael Bournival
Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Josh Gorges – Alexei Emelin
Francis Bouillon – Raphael Diaz
Scratched: Rene Bourque, George Parros, Douglas Murray