The once extremely promising Washington Capitals sit 12th in the Eastern Conference Standings, 7 points out of 8th place with 22 games remaining. The Caps have not been able to put any consistent winning streaks together this season which has put them in this unfavourable position with less than half the season left.
A few short years ago the Capitals looked ultra promising but have not been able to reach the next level of success many thought they would discover. This current core of Caps led by Alex Ovechkin has been trying to win a Stanley Cup for half a decade now without being able to get passed the second round of playoffs.
Brooks Laich is a big loss. With Brooks Laich out of the lineup suffering from a groin injury the Caps are missing some serious leadership and defensive responsibility. Laich, who has become somewhat of an under the radar important piece to the make up of the Washington Capitals has not played a game this season and his presence is desperately missed.
Ovechkin, Backstrom and Green have slipped offensively. The days of OV scoring 50 goals, Backstrom hitting 100 points and Green being a consistent threat from the back end are a distant memory now. All three players have suffered from a decline in offensive production over the last three seasons.
Sometimes elite players sacrifice offence to become more efficient two way players. It’s at this stage that young talented core’s stop winning scoring titles and start winning Stanley Cups. Although the Caps high end stars have experienced a drop in point production they haven’t come any closer to winning the big prize.
The sample size is too small. To write off this core right now seems a little premature if one is to be on the safe side, but it’s getting to the point where it should be considered that this group can’t win together. In fact, many have already drawn that conclusion. The Caps did play strongly in last season’s playoffs exercising a more defensive game plan that saw them upset the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins and lose in a close 7 game series to the New York Rangers. Just when it looked like they had turned a corner they are at serious risk of not making the playoffs this season. Missing the playoffs would be unfortunate for the Caps because this shortened season could be the year to get in and go on an incredible run.
If there is one team on the outside of the playoff picture looking in that could put together an incredible string of wins to land a spot in the top 8 by the end of the season the Caps have the talent to do it. They have to go on a tear now if they hope to have a chance at this season’s playoffs because time is quickly running out on them.