It isn't hard to figure out just why the Washington Capitals are struggling this season. You can't really blame it on injuries to Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom. The inconsistency has been a year long struggle, well, since the 7-0 start. Additionally, other NHL franchises have suffered significant injuries as well, but keep winning. You can point to the Capitals consistently getting out shot, top scorers like Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin are not putting up terrifiic numbers as in the past, the power play just whimpers a long, and the Capitals just can't win outside the Verizon Center.
Last night was another critical road loss to the Florida Panthers. That loss allowed Florida to leap over the Caps for the Southeast Division lead, and send the Caps sliding down the Eastern Conference to the to the 9th overall position. A big loss.
Last night, the Capitals went 0-2 on the power play and despite some really terrific scoring opportunities in nearly all three periods, only managed two goals against Scott Clemmensen, as the Cats nipped the Caps 4-2. Washington got tallies from Brooks Laich in the first and John Carlson in the third. With the loss, the Caps gain just 1 point in back to back duels with Southeast Division rivals.
The loss dropped the Capitals to 8-14-3 on the road. Since the change in the year, the Capitals have gone a dismal 1-4-2 on the road. Not a good sign for a team that has a little more than half their remaining games away from Verizon Center, including 7 road trips in February.
With the NHL trade deadline looming on February 27th, it will be an interesting watch by GM George McPhee. This team was once offensively scary. This team use to be, even in losses, fun to watch. Their offensive prowess filled road arenas. No more. Now the Capitals consistently get out shot, out played, out hustled, and out scored. Whether the Alexander Ovechkin dominated window is closing on these Capitals, that is a decision that only McPhee can make. That decision will be watched closely, as the current Capitals do not show any resemblence to the Caps of the past years. Capitals fans have become quite use todominating the regular season, only to suffer humiliating boots from the playoffs.
This year is different. This year Caps fans are watching, night in and night out, an inconsistent hockey team that is no where close to a once dominating regular season team. Caps fans are still trying to grip that fact and figure out answers, but one thing many may not be prepared for is the fact that suffering humiliation in the playoffs just may not be an option. If something doesn't happen, Caps fans will not be watching their home town team in the NHL playoffs.
This team isn't the same. It is up to George McPhee to figure it out. Or is it past McPhee time?