The Capitals had a tremendous start to the 2015-16 season, but they didn't end the calendar year the way they wanted to. They didn't start 2016 the way they wanted to either.
After a winning streak in which everything seemed to go right for the Caps, the injuries are starting to mount. John Carlson's ironman streak of 412 games was snapped due to a lower-body injury meaning the Caps have been without their top two defensemen for the last four games. In Wednesday's game against Buffalo, both Nicklas Backstrom and Jay Beagle were also injured and the Caps were still able to come from behind for the win. Luckily Backstrom's injury was minor and he played the next day. Beagle, however, has joined Orpik on IR.
The injuries ultimately cost the Caps their nine-game winning streak and, for the first time all season, the Caps lost two in a row as they fell on New Year's Eve to Carolina and in Columbus on Saturday.
Carlson is skating again and looks as if he will be able to return soon, but the prognosis is not as good for Beagle or Orpik. Beagle will miss several weeks after undergoing surgery on his hand while Orpik's status remains up in the air. The Caps have built themselves a large enough cushion in the standings that they should be fine in the long run. In the short-term, however, the Caps have taken a hit as they suddenly do not look like quite as dominant.