The Capitals' season continues to see-saw with 21 games left before the playoffs. They haven't been able to get in a steady rhythm since a strong November, winning a few games before losing a few then doing it all over again and again.
Yet somehow, the Capitals remain well within striking distance of the first-place Lightning in the Southeast Division and they have a comfortable 14-point cushion on the playoff outsiders in the Eastern Conference. They are one hot streak away from storming off with the division and claiming at least the No. 3 seed in the East. In fact, that hot streak may have already started.
The Capitals have won two straight games -- no biggie there -- and captain Alex Ovechkin has netted four goals in his past six games. If Ovechkin really is heating up, the Capitals might be ready to ignite.
Ovechkin isn't quite back to being the frenetic force he was in seasons past, but he has been getting his shots to the net in recent games without pesky shin guards and stick shafts getting in the way. And when that happens, as we saw last night when he put that rocket past Marc-Andre Fleury's right ear in the Capitals' 1-0 win over the Penguins, goalies will start seeing red lights again.
"That's what he does, and that's what he wasn't doing in the first 45-50 games," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said to The Washington Post while discussing Ovechkin's game-winning goal. "He wasn't getting his shot off and it didn't seem to have the mustard -- I didn't even see [the puck go into the net] in the replay at all. He's been playing like that for the last two weeks and being a real leader."
Of course, a roster shakeup could light a fire under this team, too. The trade deadline is less than a week away, but the wheeling and dealing has already begun around the NHL. Here are five potential trade targets I wrote about last week, though none will have a bigger impact than Ovie getting his groove back in time for the playoffs.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun