Although the Capitals’ regular season has been framed in some corners as having a wake-me-up-in-April feel to it, Nicklas Backstrom says the players can’t allow that mentality to pervade the dressing room.

You’re trying to get into the playoffs first of all. So you can’t really look ahead too much. It’s just the way it is. The league is so tough. You can see we—I don’t know—kinda of embarrassed ourselves Saturday night there [in Raleigh]. We lost against the team that has the fewest points [in the Eastern Conference]. The league is too tough. You can’t take anything lightly. Even if you wanted to look [ahead], I don’t think you can. And that’s something we have to realize here, otherwise it’s going to go the other way.

Backstrom’s comment comes on the heels of a couple of lopsided losses in the past three games—the 5-1 defeat against the Hurricanes and a 3-0 loss to the Sharks. It also arrives in the midst of an almost inexplicable offensive drought for many of the team's top players.

The Capitals are talented and deep, no doubt. And, yeah, they should cruise into the postseason. But nothing is a given in pro sports, and Backstrom hopes his teammates recognize that the recent stretch of ho-hum play needs to be tightened up before it becomes a problem.


You can stream tonight's game at Columbus LIVE via starting at 6:30 p.m.