Not Great, But Better
The Capitals finally get it right in back to back games. Thanks to early starts in both, Washington breaks the ninth place tie by gaining 4 points in two nights with wins over Montreal and, the team they were tied with, Toronto. Early goals in the first moments of each game has the Caps finally heading in the right direction.
But the road to the playoffs won't be won in these last two games. In fact, the Capitals still are on the outside looking in stuck in ninth. Two teams are ahead of them in the Division, Florida and Winnipeg who both gained big points today as well.
The Panthers rallied to over come a 2-0 deficit against the Carolina Hurricanes and won the game in a shoot out to give them the Southeast Division lead. The Jets were able to make it to overtime to gain a point and stay a point over the Capitals today when they lost to a shoot-out with the St. Louis Blues. In a division where the lead can change nightly, the Caps need to start piling up wins with some consistency. It could be the difference between looking in and being 3rd in the Conference with precious home ice advantage.
The Capitals road troubles have to start solving its woes pretty quick. They will be on the road for another 9 of their remaining 20 games. They will have to navigate through all of the leaders in the conference with tough teams like New Jersey, Philadelphia, Boston and the Rangers. Not to mention they will see division foes another 5 times before seasons end and Western Conference monsters like Detroit, Chicago and Minnesota (road games with the first two).
I agree with Alan May, the Caps are going to need to reach 95 points or better to safely make the playoffs. That means the Caps need to close the gap with 28 points (roughly 14 wins out of the remaining 20 on schedule). It is a tall order for the Capitals to close out the season looking at the competition they have to face, but not impossible.
What is more distressing, that general manager George McPhee hasn't made a move yet or that the Capitals have just about disappeared from any trade rumor in the last 4 days or so? There was talk of Roman Hamrlik being moved due to his recent healthy scratches. But those sort of fizzled out.
There was talk of a possible trade with Columbus for Jeff Carter, but he ended up in LA. I thought I heard a rumor about Ales Hemsky being talked about, but he resigned with the Oilers for another two years.
McPhee is notorious for keeping mum about the trade deadline. But even the experts are not sure if he is a seller come the trade deadline or a buyer. There is a real possibility that McPhee will just sit on his hands on this one, a maneuver he has done before.
If I had a dollar for every time I was wrong when it came to the thought process of one George McPhee, I would be a rich man.