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Yesterday afternoon, the Washington Capitals pulled off a big 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. They did so despite giving a rookie third-string goalie his first start of the season, despite lingering health concerns with Mike Green and despite yet another so-so performance by Mike Knuble. They've faced more adversity than they faced all of last year, with injuries to key players, and they're still in first place in the Eastern Conference.
And yet, it seems like all we can write about is that the team isn't playing well. I hate to pick on TBD's Dan Rowinski, because he's hardly the only one, but I immediately raised my eyebrows when I read this:
The Capitals have enough talent to keep winning in the regular season, even against the top teams like Philadelphia and Boston, as has been seen these last two games, but something seems off. It is not quite rotten in Denmark, but the landscape smells circumspect.
This after two humongous wins against two really good teams.
I realize that we're a bit jaded after last year. I realize that nothing that happens in the regular season really matters because it's all about April. But I also worry we're taking the Capitals' success for granted. This region doesn't have any other good professional team. The Redskins are a mess, the Wizards are at the very beginning of rebuilding, the Nationals have no optimism next year unless they somehow land Cliff Lee and D.C. United is coming off one of the worst seasons in MLS history. The Capitals, on the other hand, are in first place. First place!
I get it: they aren't playing perfectly, and they could play better. But when you create expectations where, essentially, nothing matters to you as a fan from October to March, then you run the risk of forgetting about the journey. The Capitals aren't going to win the Stanley Cup in November. They also won't lose it. In the meantime, can't we at least appreciate that they're in first place despite not playing to their full potential?
Today's must-reads from around the SB Nation network:
- Japers Rink's recap of yesterday's big win was outstanding.
- Which Wizards players deserve a spot in the Palace of Good Play after a rough week? Bullets Forever has your answer.
- Maryland's basketball season begins tonight against Seattle, so Testudo Times breaks down what we can expect from the team's guards this season.
- Switching gears to football, Testudo Times also discusses Maryland's decision to once again sub in backup quarterback Jamar Robinson at times on the goal line.
- Admit it: you enjoyed watching the Dallas Cowboys melt down last night. SB Nation's Andrew Sharp writes that it's time to fire Wade Phillips.