Oh we got trouble, right here in DC!
That's a capital "T" that rhymes with "P" and that stands for...
Pundit? Pressure? Pessimism?
There's a bit of doom and gloom going around the Beltway these days - get your shots and wash your hands several times a day, or you might just catch it. And frankly, I'm getting sick of it (I know, shocking!!)
Sure, it's hard to argue with the fact that the Caps haven't put up a solid effort in their last three games and have struggled overall since the holiday break. It doesn't help that other teams have hit hot streaks in the midst of a lukewarm stretch for the Caps, making the conference standings look that much more bleak.
On the other hand, one could say that they are just going through one of those stretches that a young team will go through. It's true, since Christmas the Caps haven't been as sharp - but while some of that is due to just pure laziness and youth, some of that can also be attributed to the combined forces of the scheduling gods and the gods of fate.
But there's trouble, gosh darn it. I know because I read it in the paper.
Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that people couldn't get enough of this scrappy little team? The Caps were the sleeper hit of the season, clawing and scratching their way into the postseason and potentially eyeing the division title. Scott Burnside even wrote a glowing piece on them...come on, it doesn't get better than that!
All of a sudden, though, both the local and national media has been focused on the negative. The Caps aren't making the playoffs. They've been overachieving through the first 41 games of the year. They're sliding down to exactly where everyone thought they would be all along. Hello, top 5 draft pick.
Because they've lost 2 straight.
Well, guess what kids - Buffalo has lost 3 straight. Anaheim has lost 4 of it's last 6. It happens. Teams get hot and cold, people go through slumps, teams lose to other teams they should probably beat, and people get injured. There's a reason they play 82 games.
Now I'm not going to sit here and say the Caps are a lock for the playoffs or that they've been playing well enough lately to get that far...even I'm not that naive. The fact is this is the time that will make or break this team. If they can pull together and get things clicking again, start stringing more wins together and lose fewer games in a row, they're absolutely still in it - if they don't, they're not. Simple as that.
But I refuse to agree with this thought from the latest naysayer:
"They are still in the race, but their overall game has taken several steps backward in the past few weeks and might be a sign they are starting to find their real level as teams around the league begin to bear down more."Please. The Caps aren't finding their real level - they're not playing anywhere near their real level. If they were coming out every game guns blazing with the same fire and jump they showed earlier in the season, and were still coming up short, I might be willing to agree.
But we all know they're not playing as a team right now - mistakes are being made from all positions, all players, all skill levels, and it has to stop. We know it and they know it. The fact that they held a closed-door team meeting after losing just their second straight game, albeit in a very embarassing fashion, shows that the leadership is on the case. This is the time for the veterans and leaders to step up and speak out to prevent the dangerous slide that could come from not snapping out of it, but it is in no way a time to panic.
This week's installment of "Quit picking on/knocking down/writing off my team" has been brought to you by a generous grant from the Hopeless Optimists Society. Visit our website today to order your very own pair of rose-colored glasses - now with silver lining magnifiers!