Caps fans have been comfortable on cloud 9 for the majority of the season. We were riding a franchise record, 15-game home win streak as we welcomed the Dallas Stars to Verizon Center on March 6th. Dallas came to DC, got out played, and outshot by our Caps, but left DC with a notch on the win column. The Stars’ victory isn’t anything new; Dallas has had a hex on the Caps for as long as I can remember. In fact, Dallas is the only team Holtby hasn’t been able to beat in his career. Following the loss, the Caps went on a west coast road trip, playing SJS, LAK, and ANA. They left the state of California with 0 points in the standings and watched their metropolitan division lead evaporate. The defense has been shredded, giving up 17 goals during the 4 game losing streak, and our superstar is in the longest goal scoring drought of his career (10 games). The Caps have taken 16 minor penalties during their 3-game California road trip and when a team gives up that many power plays, they are always chasing and cannot get into an offensive rhythm.
Nonetheless, championship caliber teams know how to fight through the adversity and can push through the tough times. Our Caps find themselves at a fork in the road, as they face the Western Conference leading Wild tonight, March 14th. The Caps have been a regular season powerhouse for the last decade, but can’t seem to get it going in the playoffs. Could this skid be exactly what we need now, rather than later?
Let’s back things up a little bit. D.C sports fans are always so quick to give up. Rightfully, we have been heartbroken and let down year after year, but lets take a quick look at the Caps with out our quick triggered emotion. The Caps outshot the 3 California teams, collectively, 116 to 102 at even strength. Washington has played 12 games, in 23 days; on the west coast, the Caps switched time zones by three hours, and played three games in four nights, including daylight saving Sunday, when the clock jumped forward one hour. Although Ovi isn’t scoring like he once was, our roster has ten, 10-goal scorers and four 20-goal scorers. We have one of the deepest teams in the league. Additionally, Burakovsky is close to return, and he skates with the third line consisting of Eller and Johansson. When the Burracuda returns, our third line will be lethal once again. Lastly, our newly acquired defenseman was suspended for the game against the Ducks (and will be for the Wild game). I’m not making excuses, just simply looking at it from a logical perspective.
All in all, this losing streak could be a good slap in the face. After dominating the majority of the season, a little rough patch might be exactly what we need to motivate us to get past the second round of the playoffs, and possibly a long sought after Stanly Cup. With 14 regular season games left, fans patiently wait as our beloved Caps, either fight through the adversity or fold and leave us right where we are most familiar.