The Washington Capitals have played their next 21 games of the 2019-20 season and it is time for their third TXHT Report Card of the season. TXHT will be doing report cards for the Capitals every 20 to 21 games during the regular season, and comparing how they do each quarter of the season to the previous quarters.
The Capitals were a team of two months. The Capitals of January, and the Capitals of February. In the month of January the Capitals would go 8-3-0 for 16 points, but it wouldn’t be an easy month for them. As the Capitals inched closer to the All Star Break and By Week the Capitals would look like they were more ready to go on their vacations rather than play the game, but the fact the Capitals would win eight games would be good for them. However, losing to division rivals Philadelphia and New Jersey did not do them any favors as the Flyers continued to climb up the Metro Division standings. The Capitals would remain in first place of the division, conference, and League, but it felt like they only tried when they wanted to.
Then in the month of February the Capitals would struggle mightily as they would go 3-6-1 for 7 points as they would fall out of first place in the division, conference and League. Goaltender Braden Holtby would hit a slump near the end of January, but February would see him shake out of his slump, but the team in front of him looked very dysfunctional. A big reason I think the team became dysfunctional is because of the 700 goal milestone for Alex Ovechkin. Going into the Feb. 8th weekend everyone’s focus was on Ovechkin reaching the milestone and it’s clear that it became both a distraction for the Capitals, and the focus for the other teams to exploit. While it would take Ovechkin two and a half weeks to finally hit the milestone, during that stretch the Capitals would go 1-5-1 in the road to 700. The Capitals would also lose to the Devils and Flyers again, plus losses to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins would also hurt the Capitals in the standings. However, to end their third quarter the Capitals would get a much needed victory over the Penguins to retake the lead in the Metro Division.
The Capitals need to get their act together and start playing a team game. Ovechkin got goal number 700, and now it’s time to refocus on what’s important and that’s the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even owner Ted Leonsis notices that the team’s overall play is a problem.
Trade deadline pick up Brenden Dillon from the San Jose Sharks will help shore up the Capitals defense that has seen Nick Jensen not work out the way the team expected when they acquired him last season from the Detroit Red Wings.
The Capitals end the month of February with a home and home series with the Winnipeg Jets, then they play the Penguins two more times on the road, plus games against the Flyers, New York Rangers (twice), and Columbus in the month of March. Outside of the Rangers, the Capitals are playing against three division rivals that are looking to secure their spot in the playoffs, and if the Capitals are not careful, they could be on the outside looking in. The Capitals also have key games against playoff teams in St. Louis, Minnesota (twice), Toronto, Edmonton, and Buffalo. This final stretch will be key to the Washington Capitals if they hope to make the playoffs and contend for the Stanley Cup once again.