Found February 19, 2012 on isportsweb.com:

The Washington Capitals are halfway through a four game road swing that has the potential to define their season.  The two games played thus far paralleled the Caps’ season to date.  Last Friday night, the Capitals faced the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers.  In a gritty and hard fought performance, Washington played the kind of hockey necessary to avoid falling short of a playoff berth.  Although former Capital Tomas Fleischmann scored first — with just 40 seconds remaining in the first period, the Capitals continued to battle.  They outshout the Panthers in every period, putting up a total of 41 shots on goal.  They held onto the puck better than they had in the past several games, and when Washington’s two Alex’s each lit the lamp in the third period, that was all that was needed to bring the Caps back within two points of Florida, with both teams having played 57 games of the regular season.

Less than 24 hours later, the Capitals faced the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team that so unceremoniously swept Washington from last year’s playoffs in four straight.  Everyone predicted this would be a hard fought contest, and it was.  The only problem, at least from the perspective of Capitals fans, was that the Bolts fought harder.  While the shots on goal and faceoffs statistics were almost dead even, the Capitals gave the puck away twelve times.  And one of those giveaways directly resulted in a breakaway for Steven Stamkos, the NHL’s leading scorer.  It’s pretty clear how that was going to come out.  Stamkos scored the Lightning’s second and what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

There was one bright spot for Washington yesterday, however: the return of two time all-star defenseman Mike Green following surgery to repair a sports hernia.  While he played a limited number of minutes (14), it was great to see #52 back on the ice.   He demonstrated the calm puck handling and smooth skating that have been his forte for all his years in the league — two traits that have been missing from Washington’s blue line in far too many games.

Looking at the Capitals remaining schedule, it’s clear that they must play better and with much greater consistency.  After all, they are 3-5-2 over their last ten games.  Even a .500 win percentage between now and the end of the regular season won’t be enough.  Winning half their remaining games would put them at 87 points — last year’s #8 seed in the Eastern Conference (the Rangers) had 93 and the year before that the Canadiens had 88 (by the way, Western Conference numbers were even higher both years).

So, with the trade deadline less than a week away, we will know very soon the view of the franchise’s management of how the regular season is likely to end.  It promises to be an interesting week.  The first step needs to be a solid performance against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.

Let’s Go Caps!

 

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Saturday Faceoff: Will Caps make playoffs?

Before the season, the Washington Capitals were viewed by many as a Stanley Cup favorite. Now they are fighting for their playoff lives as the stretch run approaches. Will the Caps turn it around and make the playoffs? Alexander and Tab debate…Ovechkin and company will find a way into the danceBy Alexander MonaghanWith Friday’s win, the Washington Capitals now sit two points...

The Capitals at the deadline

Many thought that the Caps would be well on their way to a fifth straight Southeast Division title but that hasn't been the case. They find themselves two points out of a playoff spot and two points behind the Florida Panthers and haven't lived up to the expectations that pretty much everyone had for them. You can spend all day pointing figures at who is to blame for this...

‘It’s a Team That Lacks an Identity’

On at least three occasions during Monday night’s national television broadcast the NBC Sports studio tandem of Mike Milbury and Jeremy Roenick explicitly alluded to the Capitals lacking any discernible identity. It’s a sentiment I began expresing on this blog about two years ago. And it’s a lead reason why I find it, in year seven of Alexander Ovechkin’s NHL career, so difficult...

Capitals not looking to unload Mike Knuble

SportsNet hockey analyst Brian Lawton suggests it might be beneficial for both Washington and forward Mike Knuble to part ways: the Capitals would clear some cap room for the deadline, while a change...

Capitals Assign Keith Aucoin to Hershey

ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals have assigned forward Keith Aucoin to the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL), vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.  Aucoin, 33, is second in the AHL i...

Yanking of Vokoun fails to provide spark for Capitals

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Washington Capitals will very likely ride Tomas Vokoun the rest of the season, putting their playoff hopes on the 35-year-old goaltender's shoulders. But the ride Monday night lasted just over five minutes. It took seven shots and two goals, perhaps one of which could be blamed ...

Caps D Green returns after 18 games (AP)

Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green is back after missing 18 games because of an abdominal injury. Green was in the lineup Saturday night against Tampa Bay. It was just the 11th game he played in this season. Green, who had abdominal surgery last month, was sidelined early in the season by a sprained right ankle and then injured his groin in early November.

Grinding fourth line stars for Capitals at Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. — For so long Friday night, the Washington Capitals' top three lines couldn't do much. They were on their heels or forced to play dump-and-chase hockey and fight in the neutral zone. Meanwhile, the fourth line of Jay Beagle, Jeff Halpern and Joel Ward actually did something. They ...

Capitals embarrassed by Hurricanes

RALEIGH, N.C. — Matt Hendricks and Troy Brouwer dropped the gloves and tried to go down fighting. Too bad the rest of the Washington Capitals went down without a fight well before that. Or barely showed up. On Monday night in yet another crucial game, the Caps lacked just about ...

Capitals-Hurricanes Preview

In the midst of a stretch of six games in nine days, the Washington Capitals are hoping to use one of their off days to revitalize themselves. The Capitals continue a four-game trip Monday night when they take on the Southeast Division rival Carolina Hurricanes. Washington (29-24-5) will play four games over the next six days after back-to-back 2-1 contests Friday and Saturday...

Losing His MoJo

Marcus Johansson is struggling. The gifted young center for the Washington Capitals has gone into a slump recently, and he's beginning to drag his team down. Tonight, while down 3-0 to the Carolina Hurricans, the Capitals earned a critical power play early in the second period.  The man advantage was a perfect opportunity for Washington to get back into the game.  It began...

Washington Capitals (29-24-5) at Carolina Hurricanes (22-26-11), 7:30 p.m. (ET)

It has been over a month since the Washington Capitals last put together a winning streak, but a solid divisional record has kept them in the hunt in the Southeast standings.
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.