If you pull yourself away from the Eastern Conference standings for a minute and examine how the Capitals are handling life without their best players, the gloom and doom slowly dissipates.
Are there concerns about the compete level of the Capitals? Yes.
Concerns about their secondary talent level? Yes.
Concerns about their goaltending, special teams and defense pairings? Yes. Yes. Yes.
It seems to be something different every night, Brooks Laich said following the Caps 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers Wednesday night, a defeat that dropped them from third in the conference standings to gulp ninth.
Whether it's one night the power play doesn't score, one night the penalty kill gives one up, or a mistake, a missed assignment. We're just not getting it done. It has nothing to do with game plan or structure. It's just a mistake here or there changes the game and we're fighting from behind. We just have to be better.
That was Brooks Laich protecting his coach and pointing a finger at his teammates.
But the fact of the matter is the Caps went 1-1-1 while Alex Ovechkin was serving his three-game suspension, picking up three of a possible six points. They are 5-5-2 in the 12 games Nicklas Backstrom has missed since suffering a concussion on Jan. 3.
In other words, theyre treading water while keeping pace in the jam-packed Eastern Conference. And thats not necessarily a bad thing. The Caps have made it abundantly clear that they are a .500 team without Ovechkin and Backstrom.
They would have a tough time making the playoffs let alone winning a round if Backstrom and Mike Green do not return to the lineup. But assuming they will, the Caps are in position to make a run in March and April.
Despite all their current warts.