The Washington Capitals seemingly saved their season Thursday night with a stirring, comeback, road win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Not even halfway through the first period in Raleigh on Thursday night, the Caps found themselves down by two goals. In fewer than four periods of hockey, the Caps had been outscored by the Canes 6-0. Carolina looked to be on the verge of delivering the knockout blow on the Caps' hopes for a Southeast division title this season and, possibly, any playoff berth at all.
Somehow though, the Caps fought back and captured a 3-2 win over the Canes. Third period goals by Alexander Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro rescued the Caps from the brink and—for the time being anyway—kept the Caps' rather slim hopes for making the playoffs alive.
Then came Saturday, and the Caps turned in a real stinker of an effort in a disheartening 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. While losing to the Bruins is nothing to be ashamed of, the manner in which the Caps were pretty well dominated by the B's was very demoralizing.
In a microcosm, it has been that kind of a season for the Caps.
A terribly slow start to the season saw the Caps stumble out of the blocks to a 2-8-1 record. Brooks Laich was not playing, the team could not score and they were racking up penalties at an alarming rate.
Since then, however, the Caps have been better, sporting a record of 9-7-0. Nevertheless, the Caps' chances for making the playoffs seem bleak. With just 21 games remaining in the season, Washington sits eight points out of the final playoff spot in the eastern Conference, and they are nine points behind the Winnipeg Jets—yes, the Jets— for the Southeast division lead.
Declaring the season officially lost might be a bit premature—but thinking the Caps have a real shot at making the playoffs this season might just be too optimistic.
With more than half the season in the books, it really looks like the Caps will have to go back to school in the offseason to try and figure out how they can improve so that they can be competitive once more for the 2013-2014 season.
Like any good student though, the Caps must receive their dreaded report card here at the mid-term of their semester on ice to see just how well or poorly they have been doing.
So let's pass out some grades for the Washington Capitals' performance for the first half of the season.