It has taken 58 games to make brutally clear the problem that fans are restlessly trying to deny: this is the worst Washington Capitals team since Bruce Boudreau took over in 2007/08.
The Capitals desperately need to improve, and with the NHL trade deadline now just a week away, the time to do that is now.
The Caps need to improve in several areas. Here are the Top 3 places where the Caps need to get better if they are to break the curse of the elusive Stanley Cup and finally bring her to the Verizon Center.
You have to say, one of the main reasons the Caps' top guns have been firing empty is a lack of leadership. The team has only four players over 35 on the roster, and the lack of true veteran presence is alarming.
At the deadline in 2008, the Capitals acquired Sergei Fedorov from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He scored 13 points in 18 games to end the year, and played a major role in helping the Caps reach the playoffs in Bruce Boudreau's debut season. A season ago, the Caps acquired Jason Arnott from the New Jersey Devils hoping to get the same veteran leadership brought in by Fedorov, but he was unable to do that.
The Caps need a Fedorov-esque acquisition if they want bring the Stanley Cup to the District of Columbia.
So far this season, 14 teams have scored more than the Capitals. They have been nowhere near prolific enough, and that is in large part due to the struggles of their top-six forwards.
Alex Ovechkin has been inconsistent. Alexander Semin, while better than phenomenal in the past two months, has not produced enough. Troy Brouwer peaked at the wrong time, and Mike Knuble has been brutally underwhelming.
The Caps must add elite depth on their wings if they want to be contenders.
In the offseason, the Capitals focused heavily on improving their winger corps, bringing in Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward to correct what they felt was the weakest part of the team. The team relied on Nicklas Bäckström, Jeff Halpern, Marcus Johansson and Brooks Laich to round out their center corps for the season.
That group looks a lot weaker when Bäckström is out.
With the Swede injured indefinitely, the Caps need to add strength down the middle. Johansson is still a couple of years away from being an elite center and Laich is no offensive juggernaut. Center depth is a huge need for the Caps, and is undoubtedly the key to success for them for the rest of this season.
Follow Jake Ware on Twitter at @JacobWare95