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Missed Opportunity

I can honestly say that the mood in the Caps' dressing room last night at Nassau Coliseum was as gloomy as it's been all season. The players weren't just disappointed by their performance, and the result, they were devastated.

"That game was up for grabs," Matt Pettinger said after the Caps' 3-2 OT loss to the Islanders. "In the long run, [not] getting that extra point is huge ...That's kind of the situation we're in."

It was a 180-degree turnaround from the upbeat outlook that surrounded the team upon returning from Detroit earlier in the week. After the 4-3 shootout loss to the NHL-leading Red Wings, they all spoke so optimistically about the next two games, about beating the Canadiens and Islanders, about heading into the holiday break with some confidence and momentum, about catapulting back into the Eastern Conference race.

Instead, they gained only one point and now find themselves with 30 points, seven out of eighth, with seven teams to pass and a difficult schedule awaiting them on the other side of Christmas. (They had 39 points at the holiday break last season.)

But they've also got three days rest up, clear their minds and, most importantly, decide how they want this season to be remembered. Wednesday's meeting with the Lightning is just one game, but it's not a stretch to say we're going to learn a lot about this team, and where it's headed, by the performance vs. Tampa Bay.

Mike Green, by the way, looked like he was going to okay after taking a few stitches on the right ear.

As for me, I'm also planning to take a few days off (although my Sunday is almost shot thanks to flight delays caused by dense fog at DCA.)

Happy Holidays.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  December 23, 2007; 12:49 PM ET
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