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Capitals likely cooked already

Washington must now play like first-place team to crack playoffs

Originally Published: February 7, 2013
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider

Who do you think would look better in a Washington Capitals sweater, top prospect Nathan MacKinnon or Seth Jones? Too premature to discuss one of the prized talents in this year's draft landing in D.C.? Maybe, but the Caps are limping toward the quarter pole of the season as one of the poster boys for failed expectations.

A team stacked with, in theory, three superstars (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green), the second-line center who has eluded them since 2008 (Mike Ribeiro), a budding blue line (John Carlson, Karl Alzner and Dmitry Orlov) and young goalies on the rise (Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby) was expected to contend for the Southeast Division title. Instead, the Caps are 2-7-1 after 10 games of a 48-game season, putting them in last place of the Eastern Conference.

"It's incredibly frustrating. We're not getting any results right now," Alzner said after Tuesday's loss to Toronto. "It seems every game we have one or two human-error goals, not ones that we should let in or allow them to even have a chance. And every time we do, it seems to be killing us. I'm very frustrated. I still feel like we play good hockey, just never good enough to win though, and it's about time we get over that hump."

Is there enough time for Washington to turn this around and still make the playoffs? Probably not. In fact, their odds to reach the postseason are already under 1 percent.

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