The night after the Caps stood pat at the trade deadline, Toronto came calling to the Verizon Center and left with a 2-1 victory. As was true in the previous two meetings between the teams (Caps wins in early and late December), the first team to two goals won, but, with all due respect to Martin Gerber, those uninspired (and Ovechkin-less) Caps had no one to blame but themselves for that loss.
Since that night, the Leafs have gone 4-4-0 and have given up 27 goals along the way, while the Caps have gone a deceiving 5-2-1 (deceiving in that they've outscored their opponents by just a single goal overall, 22-21). Tonight's game will be a battle, to be sure (perhaps as much against the flu as against Toronto), and it'd be nice if everyone wearing white showed up for it in more than just body.
But tonight isn't as much about the match-up or the Leafs as it is about the Caps. More important than the final score on this night might be the power play opportunities for and against, because, as we discussed yesterday, those tend to be leading indicators of motivation and discipline, respectively, which have been the Caps' two primary trouble areas for weeks.
With just eight games remaining in the regular season, it's time to bear down, take care of business, and enter the postseason on a roll, and that all starts tonight in Toronto.