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For the Capitals, “Then” Was Much Better than “Now”

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It is almost as if the Caps have played two entirely different seasons — one great, the other something far less than that.

Philadelphia Flyers v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Over their first 37 games this season, the Washington Capitals were the class of the NHL. Their 26-6-5 record was not a fluke. They were at or near the top of many statistical categories, and solid in the rest.

Since then, however, it’s been a different story and almost a different team.

Over their last 29 games, the Caps are 14-14-1 and have seen their Metropolitan Division lead shaved from eight points over the New York Islanders on December 22 to one point over Philadelphia thanks to their loss to the Flyers last night.

And this, too, has been no fluke. The fall-off for the Caps has been broad and significant on both sides of the puck. How much? Here is how much…

The Caps head to New York to face the Rangers tonight, the second of three-straight Metro opponents and the beginning of a three-game road trip — from here on out, every game has to be a stepping stone to improvement.

Because there is a lot of work to be done before this team can be said to be “playoff-ready.”