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A Brutal Stretch

While much of the world takes some time off for the holidays, the Caps (and the sports writers who follow them) are bracing themselves for a downright brutal stretch.

Has anyone out there looked at the next week? I have. And I'm not afraid to say that come April, the eighth place Caps will look back on this span of games and say one of two things: a) it's the reason they made the playoffs or b) it was the beginning of the end.

Mark my words.

The Caps have six games in nine nights starting tonight against the Devils. Yes, I know, that's crazy. Even last year, with the two week break for the Olympics, they never had more than five games in nine days.

They've got the Maple Leafs in T.O. tomorrow night. After coming home for Christmas, everyone is back out the door for a game at the Sabres on Tuesday and then home against the Canadiens on Wednesday. Then, after getting Thursday off, there's back-to-back games at Devils and Rangers on Friday and Saturday.

Whew!

The good news for the Caps is they've got a bunch of young players with young legs and a lot to play for. They've also go a capable backup goaltender in Brent Johnson, who figures to get at least a couple of starts, if not three.

The bad news is there's virtually no margin for error. Many of the teams the Caps are playing figure to be the same ones they'll be fighting for a playoff spot in March and April.

How do you think the Caps will fare?

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 22, 2006; 3:01 PM ET
 
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