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It's Time

Remember when I said a few weeks ago that it was too early to panic? Well, if you haven't already, it's time to reach for that button.

The Caps, losers of seven of their past eight, are all alone in last place in the NHL with 13 points in 19 games. As such, any talk of playoffs will be banned on this blog until further notice.

If Alex Ovechkin and Co. don't rally this season, they won't need to look any further than the past two days to find the turning point. There's no excuse for scoring a single goal at Florida, or for their mistake-riddled loss last night at Tampa Bay, where they held a one-goal lead for, oh, a 1 minute 49 seconds. But who's counting?

On a positive note, rookie Nicklas Backstrom looked pretty good centering Ovechkin's line last night, didn't he? Yeah, it was in a losing effort, but it's a little something this franchise has to look forward to. (Ovechkin, by the way, skated a whopping 29:24.)

Chris Clark, the right wing on the top line, said of Backstrom: "He looked like a 15-year veteran."

Coach Glen Hanlon added: "I thought Nick was just great. There aren't too many players who can come in at 20 years old and play with Ovechkin and not be in awe a little bit. He made all the right decisions. The line had real good pace to it. I thought he was wonderful."

"You might see that line for a for quite a few years. Those two kids are young and Clarkie made some good plays on it, too."

Note: The Caps will take today off before getting back on the ice Sunday morning at KCI. Alexander Semin, sidelined the past nine games with an ankle injury, is expected to join his teammates for his first practice since tweaking the injury in St. Louis on Oct. 27.

I'm traveling today, but I'll update if news breaks.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  November 17, 2007; 7:55 AM ET
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Next: Sunday Morning Skate

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