So now that the NHL trade deadline has come and gone without the Capitals making a move of any kind, do they have enough to make the playoffs?
Better yet, do they have any shot at all of winning the Stanley Cup?
That was, after all, the goal back in September, right?
Were still thinking about it, Alex Ovechkin said when asked if the Capitals can compete for a Cup with their current roster. Its not over yet. Were still fighting for playoff spot and in the playoffs you never know whats going to happen.
The last couple years, we were first in the league and in the playoffs we were a desperate team and we dont have the results. You never know how were going to be in the playoffs and if were going to be in the playoffs.
With 20 games remaining in the regular season, the Capitals are 31-26-5 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one point out of a playoff spot and three points behind the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers.
So do the Caps, who on Monday placed top-line center Nicklas Backstrom on long-term injured reserve with concussion symptoms, still think they can win a Stanley Cup?
I think so, defenseman Dennis Wideman said. We have the same team we had at the start of the year. We had expectations to do really good this year and make a push.
Weve had ups and down this year, and we havent had the regular-season success we want. But if we keep playing the way we did the last couple games and keep getting better, I think well be a tough team to beat.
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun was even more direct when asked about the Capitals chances to make the playoffs.
I think it depends how we play, Vokoun said. I think in the past we have been a two-faced team. Sometimes we look awesome, and sometimes we dont look so good. There are a lot of good players in this locker room. Theyve got to play up to their capabilities.
Having won their last two games against the Canadiens and Maple Leafs, the Caps can make or break their season with a coming homestand in which theyll face the Islanders, Devils, Flyers, Hurricanes and Lightning.
I think we have had the team all year, said Marcus Johansson, who is filling the role of Backstrom. We know we have the capability, but we have to bring it every night. Two nights is not enough, either. We have to keep going like this because, to make the playoffs, we have to play good the rest of the year.
This year, theyll have to do it without the help of a trade deadline deal.