5 Weaknesses Hurting the Washington Capitals' Chances of Reaching the Playoffs

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5 Weaknesses Hurting the Washington Capitals' Chances of Reaching the Playoffs
Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Can the Caps close the deal and reach the playoffs?

The Washington Capitals' express train to the 2013 NHL playoffs picked up quite a bit of momentum on Tuesday night. The Caps went into Montreal to take on a Canadiens team that is currently seeded No. 2 in the Eastern Conference and came from behind to play their best game of the season in a 3-2 win over the Habs.

The train showed no signs of slowing down on Thursday night as the Caps again rallied from a one-goal deficit and defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 3-1, to win their sixth straight game.

Earlier in the season, these were the types of games the Caps would have lost. Those days, however, are now gone. The real Washington Capitals are back and poised to take the Eastern Conference by force.

Or so it seems.

Without question, the Caps are on an absolute tear. With a six-game winning streak, the Caps are tied with the St. Louis Blues for the longest current win streak in the NHL. They are 8-1-1 in their past 10 games, the best mark of any team in the NHL over the past 10 games.

Not even the mighty Pittsburgh Penguins have been that good (although 8-2-0 is hardly anything to be ashamed of).

All this has given the Caps a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for the Southeast division crown as both teams head down the home stretch.

Along the way, Alexander Ovechkin has turned back the clock to several years ago, and there is no one in hockey playing better than the "Great 8" as of late.

In his past six games alone, Ovi has scored eight goals, including his second hat trick of the season, on April 6, against the Florida Panthers. His overall play over those past six games has been nothing short of sensational as Ovi has a plus-eight rating over that span.

Ovechkin is now tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning's Steven Stamkos for the NHL lead in goals, with 26. Quietly, Ovechkin has silenced many of his detractors and is putting together a case for his being considered for the Hart Memorial Trophy.

Nevertheless, there are dark clouds on the Caps' horizon. I am not saying they are storm clouds, but they are dark enough that the Caps and their fans have to be on guard, lest all the hard work the Caps have done so far goes for naught.

As strong as the Caps look—and despite how well they have been playing—there are still weaknesses with this team, particularly at this point in the season, that could cost the Caps a playoff berth.

Here are five of those weaknesses that could prove costly as the Caps fight to clinch a playoff berth.

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