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From Panic to Grave Concern February 14, 2013

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

And yes, I do mean that as an upgrade.

The Caps are on a modest 2-game streak, and are heading into Thursday night’s bout with the Bolts with a bit of momentum on their side.  The Caps just came out on the good end of an overtime game Tuesday night; the Lightning, by contrast, are on a 5-game winless streak, most recently finding themselves on the wrong end of a 4-3 shootout loss to the Habs.  The Caps are heading in the right direction; the Lightning are getting close to two weeks without a win.

Yes, I know it’s a division game; yes, I know anything can happen; yes, I know this is pretty much the same club that clobbered us on Opening Night.

But the Caps are starting to look like they’re figuring out everything they didn’t get a preseason to learn.  Saturday night’s romp at Verizon Center was a welcome relief, to be sure.  But Tuesday night’s win may have been more important, because the Caps finally figured out how to throw the kitchen sink late in a game and actually score a hit.  Down by a couple with time getting short, they fought back, and skated out with two points.  Any win is a good win at this point, and a character win on top of two points is most welcome indeed.

But the Caps aren’t out of the woods yet.  They are still in last place:  not tied for last place; last place outright, due to tie breaks.  They can’t stop at a 2-game streak:  it needs to become a sustained run of wins.  4-5-1 in the L10 column is still losing hockey, and they need to get working on turning that 4 into a 5, 6, 7, or better.  They simply HAVE to claw their way out of the cellar.

It’s more than just the ignominy of being in last place.  That’s bad enough.  But when you look at it from the playoff math side of it, last place is the last place you want to be, especially this season.  If you have one team ahead of you, and another one safely behind you, and the lower seed beats the higher seed, you have a chance to make up a lot of ground on the higher seed.  But when EVERYONE is ahead of you, you can lose ground no matter who wins any particular game.  If the higher seed wins, they’re that much closer to getting out of your reach for good; if the lower seed wins, you now have to make up ground on them, too.  And with no inter-conference help possible this year, every single game matters.  The short version:  upsets won’t help unless the Caps are out in front of the team that’s doing the upset.

So they’ve GOT to win, win several games, and do it now.  I know I sound like a broken record on that point, but if they’ve really figured out how to claw their way back from a bad night (a la Tuesday night), and they also know how to win going away (remember Saturday?), then all the ingredients should be there for a charge up the standings.  I don’t want to say it’s must-win at this point, but we’re definitely closing in on put-up-or-shut-up time.

The Caps have done well in their last two; but they need many, many more wins if they’re going to have a shot at the playoffs.

Now, if you look at the standings, you’ll see the Caps a scant 6 points out of the division lead.  That’s not impossible; but it’s also not as easy as it would be under an 82-game schedule, especially with no help possible from the West.  I don’t want to say that one more bad skid means you can stick a fork in the season.  I DO want to say that the Caps have got to win.  A lot.  And now.

They’ve shown they can do it in their last two outings, and now it’s time to prove those weren’t flukes.  A win Thursday night in Tampa might get them an upgrade to Very Concerned.

Hey, you have to start somewhere.  Good luck, gentlemen.




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