All right, Caps fans—we're 14 games into the year, and the results are...not what we'd hoped for.
At 5-9, the Capitals are struggling after that great 3-0 start. There are both positives and negatives to look at—but I'm an optimist, so let's start with the former.
In four of the Capitals' wins—over Atlanta, Carolina, Toronto, and Tampa—they absolutely dominated their opponents.
Mike Green is playing like a man possessed, Alexander Ovechkin is his regular self, and Viktor Kozlov, Tom Poti, and Michael Nylander are already proving to be upgrades over the men they replaced.
Olie Kolzig, when on, has been superb in goal, and Brent Johnson hasn't been the worst backup netminder in the league.
At present, though, the negatives outweigh the positives.
The Capitals are struggling on the power play, the defense seems ratty, and when the goalies aren't on, you can tell. The Caps are also committing stupid penalties, and opposing teams are capitalizing.
The PK has been downright awful. Donald Brashear is getting power play time, and the team refuses to break up Kozlov and Ovechkin.
My understanding of their chemistry is about equivalent to the average 12-year-old's understanding of Biochemistry 401: "This doesn't always work."
Injuries are also a negative. It's pretty obvious that the losses of Poti, Alexander Semin, and Chris Clark are taking their tolls. Clark is the axle that allows the Caps to roll. Without him, the team is struggling.
All told, the Caps are missing three players who combined for 172 points last year. That's bound to hurt your offense—but the problems in Washington this year have been on both offense and defense.
Is there hope? Yes. There always is in the NHL. Kovalchuk, Crosby, St. Louis, Lecavlier, Briere, and Staal could all somehow come down with injuries—and their teams could lose so many games that the mediocre Caps would rise to the top of the league.
It could, however, be a long year for Caps fans. I for one am hoping it will be—because we make a run deep into the playoffs.