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The Capitals' Identity Crisis As The Second Half Of The Season Begins

This is your Morning Commute. Make the jump for additional links.

The unofficial NHL halfway mark passed this weekend with the culmination of the NHL All-Star Game, which means it's time to start thinking about the Capitals' performance going forward. We all know the first half of the season was underwhelming, as a 27-15-9 record is a far cry from where they were last year. That relative failure is something that prompted Brian Murphy of Homer McFanboy to ask why the Capitals insisted on becoming more defensive-minded.

They've resigned themselves that the good old days of "fire wagon hockey" have come and gone and now they need to try and morph into the 90's New Jersey Devils or something.

But that's not who this team is. That's not what these players with these specific set of skills are best equipped to do. So what you're seeing now is guys trying to be something they're not. Instead of letting the game come to them and reacting naturally, they're over-thinking things and second guessing themselves.

Murphy's sentiment is one we've expressed on this site as well - namely, was it right for the Capitals to buy into the self-fulfilling prophecy that defensive hockey wins championships? I still say that it wasn't, but I also acknowledge that other factors are at play. Nagging injuries have hurt, especially to guys like Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Mike Green and Eric Fehr. Given the lack of talent on the ice compared to last year, going full-throttle may not be a good move.

But neither is buying into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Banging square pegs into round holes causes uneven play like this, and the payoff may not be realized. The second half will provide an answer to whether the Capitals' style shift is one caused by necessity or thanks to a conscious effort to pull people away from their strengths. 

Today's must-reads from around the SB Nation network:


  • Not only is Alex Ovechkin struggling, but he's struggling in particular against the good teams, writes Japers Rink.
  • Hogs Haven discuses why the quarterback class in this year's NFL Draft is overrated. 
  • Bullets Forever hands out its Keys to the Palace for last week.
  • Testudo Times gets us ready for the big Maryland-Duke game on Wednesday.
Today on SB Nation D.C.: Jack Anderson discusses why the Pro Bowl gave a little relief to Redskins fans after another bad year, while Scott Jackson recaps the week that was in his Chain Reactions column.

Reminder: Come on out for the SB Nation D.C. Wizards/Caps viewing party at Madhatter on Feburary 1. Click here to RSVP.