I’m revisiting my blog from a few months ago, and I’m basically still in the same boat…don’t press your Washington Capitals panic button quite yet.
Now, as it’s been pointed out by some of my show co-hosts and several listeners, maybe I’m struggling with the concept of what a panic button is all about. I would be the guy in the Titanic’s crow’s nest that sounds the alarm as the “unsinkable ship” is getting gashed by the iceberg; the Hindenburg would have to be fully engulfed in flames before the panic sets in for me.
Has the Capitals season gone as planned? Of course not…Ovi has been a massive underachiever, Nicklas Backstrom has been on hiatus since early January with concussion-like symptoms, and Mike Green has missed a huge chunk of the season due to injury. Oh, and Head Coach Bruce Boudreau was thrown overboard just 22 games into the season, only to be replaced by the underwhelming Dale Hunter.
But, despite all the turmoil, with their overtime win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at Verizon Center last night, the Caps still have a fighting chance of making the playoffs. As of today, the Caps are the Eastern Conference’s #8 seed, and trail the Southeast division-leading Florida Panthers by just two points. The problem is the remaining schedule, which is a minefield littered with road games against playoff contenders. Six of the remaining nine road games for the Caps are against teams that are mortal locks to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and there’s also a tough roadie against division rival Winnipeg thrown in for good measure.
It’s a tall task for a team that has struggled mightily on the road this season, as the Caps are seven games below .500 away from Verizon Center, but it’s not impossible. Alex Ovechkin needs to carry the team on his back and play like the $10 million a year superstar he was just a few seasons ago; his overtime winners against the Isles and Lightning are an encouraging sign that his production could be ready to ramp up. They can’t afford to fall asleep like they did in the 2nd period of the win over Tampa Bay; if they do that in Joe Louis Arena against the Red Wings, they’ll be down 3-0 in the blink of an eye.
So let’s hold off on the panic button for a few weeks…this one’s coming down to the wire, and you don’t want to bail on the good guys too early!