With the Caps now seven points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and a full eight points behind the 'Canes for the Southeast Division lead—with the Caps having played half of their schedule already—there is no more margin for error.
The Caps need points, and they need them now if they want to have any hope of making the playoffs this season.
And if the Caps are going to get there, they will need some major contributions from their best players.
For many of these top players, their personal seasons have, in many respects, mirrored the season that the Caps have had—largely erratic and inconsistent.
There are some players, such as Mike Ribeiro, Eric Fehr and Joel Ward, who have exceeded all expectations.
Then there are players like Jason Chimera who have been huge disappointments.
Players like Alexander Ovechkin are all over the place as far as consistency is concerned. Ovi can notch a hat trick one game, and then go and make a terrible mistake as he did against the New York Rangers on Sunday that seemed to turn the game around.
Ditto for Braden Holtby, who has three shutouts on the season, but who also has been pulled by Adam Oates twice in the Caps' last six games.
Lost in all of this has been the absence of Brooks Laich, who has not played in a game all season.
Suffice it to say, if the Caps have any hope at all of sneaking into the playoffs, it will take all hands on deck.
Very early in the season, I wrote an article predicting stats for the Caps' 10 best players. At the mid-point of the season, it is time to take an updated look at this list to see how close I was, how far off I might have been and to see how things might end up.
I am also modifying the list a bit. It pains me to leave Brooks Laich off the list because I firmly believe his absence is a major reason the Caps are in this hole. But right now it is really up in the air if or when we will see Laich.
Jason Chimera is also no longer in my Top 10. With zero goals, eight assists and a minus-three on the season, Chimera has to be the biggest disappointment of the season for the Caps.
But for these remaining 10 players, it is time to step up and get the job done.