You may have heard this already, but the Caps aren’t doing too hot right now.
Losers of seventh straight, Washington has gone from having a dominant lead in the Metropolitan Division to second place to the New York Islanders with only a one and two-point lead over Columbus and Pittsburgh respectively despite playing in two more games than both teams.
As I have tried to caution people throughout the losing streak, teams are never as bad as their lowest point or as good as their highest point. The truth is somewhere in between and the Caps are still in good position to make the playoffs.
Having said that, when they return from the break, they will need to turn things around quickly because the schedule is about to get a little nuts.
The Caps return from the bye week with a six-game home stand followed by a six-game road trip. On Jan. 11, Washington hosts Los Angeles then will play in Columbus on Jan. 12. Having the first game of a lengthy road trip be the second leg of a back-to-back is just brutal. From Columbus, Washington goes out west for the California gauntlet of San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles. They then return east for games in Toronto and Buffalo before finally returning home…for the second leg of a back-to-back against the New York Rangers the day after they play the Sabres.
The schedule makers did the Caps no favors on this one. That’s a very tough road trip so the Caps are going to need to bank points when they get back to work in those six home games. If Washington wins only one or two of those games before they even head out west, then it may be time to worry about where this season is going.
Here are a few recent observations and thoughts on the Caps:
- I’m sure Braden Holtby is happy about winning the All-Star tournament, but, given what happened last year, I have a feeling he would have been satisfied regardless of the outcome after he stopped Nikita Kucherov on a breakaway in the Metropolitan Division’s game against the Atlantic.
- Good for John Carlson on winning the hardest shot competition. His 102.8 mph was better than Alex Ovechkin’s 101.3 when he won it in 2018. I honestly didn’t know he had it in him.
- Does walking away with a win give any added confidence to Todd Reirden, Carlson and Holtby or take some of the pressure off when they return? I don’t have an answer to that question, but I doubt it. The All-Star Game has a pretty relaxed atmosphere and I think the pressure returns as soon as they all get back to Washington. If you take anything away from the All-Star festivities it’s that Reirden didn’t forget how to coach, Holtby is still one of the top netminders in the NHL and Carlson is an elite defenseman. Everyone goes through slumps and this is one of them. This snapshot of the season shouldn’t define who they are as a coach or players.
- Does a win for the Metro make Ovechkin’s decision to sit out look any different? Not to me. As I have said before, All-Star Games in every sport are terrible and should go away. If anything, Washington’s losing streak makes Ovechkin look smarter. Some time to rest and get away from hockey should do him good. Caps fans should hope there’s still enough time for Carlson and Holtby to kick their feet up before the team returns to practice on Thursday.
The Caps continue sliding in the rankings after losing seven straight for the first time since January 2014.
MORE CAPS NEWS:
- Superstars: Reirden, Carlson and Holtby shine at All-Star weekend
- Don't Panic Yet: Caps can dig themselves out
- Back-to-Back: Carlson wins NHL's hardest shot