Well I missed the last two Capitals games - check updates, blogs and recaps of all after getting score alerts while driving northbound on the I-95 and the New Jersey Turnpike during the Senators game and southbound back that same route during the Maple Leafs game. So it's hard for me to make any sort of conclusive statements about the Capitals other than "I hope so and I'm an eternal optimist." From going through the statistics and reflecting on the couple of games I did actually watch first hand so far during the "Hunter Era" so far, I will say I like what I see and yes, I am optimistic. I think the Capital's core also does and is responding as well. So are THE Capitals back? Well with a 5-5-0 record in their last ten games it's a little too early to tell, but there is definitely reason for hope again in the neighborhood around 7th and F Streets. Now if the Caps can make up at least 1 of the 2 1/2 games they trail the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead before the end of December, a period when they have 9 games remaining this month and Florida has 10 games remaining and the Caps can finish the month with a 8-4-2 record or better for the month overall (18 or more points), then I'll be convinced they are back on track. So that's pretty much the bottom line, but there are a bunch of promising signs that the Caps are off to a good start at moving back from "bubble team hell" to clear playoff team.
Now about the NHL realignment - first let's get this out of the way - I can't wait for next season, I love the new alignment and the the way it's worked out for the Capitals. The Division games next season will clearly be far more exciting, load and fun than the Southeast Division games this season and the 2013 playoffs assuming the Capitals make them - Whooaa. As @ovi8 would say, SICK. That said I've gotta believe that in a couple of years, no more, there will be two more teams in the NHL, my guess is Quebec and a team out west in the US and that would be either Seattle or Houston, IMO. I also think that would/could work out very well and there is enough talent available world-wide to support 32 great NHL teams. Now if they could have gotten rid of the shootout, or at least made every game a three point game and a win in regulation worth more than one in OT or the shootout .... That too is my bottom line.
Next up for the Capitals- the Flyers at Verizon Center on Tuesday.
LETS GO CAPS!!!!