The Washington Capitals played their 41st game of the year last night, and in a game that mirrored the atmosphere of a playoff game they were able to notch their 27th victory of the season over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Washington defeated the Flyers by way of a shootout, as Jose Theodore stopped all three shooters, and Viktor Kozlov scored what turned into the game winner.
Their record now sits at 27-11-3, including a 12-1-0 run in their past 13, which is a far cry from where they were at mid way point last year.
Just to take you on a quick trip down memory lane, the Capitals were 12-17-2 at the same point last year, and were sitting in the basement of the Eastern Conference before their miraculous turn around.
What has been more impressive than last years playoff drive is how well the Capitals are preforming this year despite a slew of injuries to core players.
Many nights this season, the Capitals have more so resembled the Hershey Bears, as nearly half their AHL roster has played at least one NHL game this season.
But despite the bruised bodies the Caps have gotten it done, and now sit at 57 points on the year, good for fourth overall in the league.
Impressive? Rather. But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Washington cannot afford to let their egos be stroked on merely half a years work.
Some would call last nights game a Litmus Test for the Capitals, considering they were playing one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference. The real test will be how they fair the remainder of January, as it will be their toughest schedule to date.
Remaining on the calendar this month are trips from the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings, as well as road trips to Boston and Pittsburgh.
This month also features three back-to-back sets, the most the Capitals will see all year.
So lets keep it all in perspective. What the Caps have done so far this season is impressive, and there's no reason not to believe that they won't be able to continue it into the second half of the season, especially if healthy bodies start returning to the line-up.
However there is much work to be done for the Capitals to maintain their image as an Eastern Conference powerhouse.
Hold off the Stanley Cup parades just yet.
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