For the second time in two weeks the Washington Capitals have won three consecutive games. The circumstances surrouding the previous three game win streak are different then the current one, but also similiar.
The previous three game winsteak which went from Feb. 24-28 followed a three game losing streak in which the Capitals suffered a 5-0 shutout loss and a one-goal loss to a divisional opponent. There current three game streak also follows a three game losing steak that includes a 5-0 shutout loss and a one-goal loss to a divisional opponent.
Each win streak also includes a late third period rally that resulted in an overtime win on a goal by Alex Ovechkin.
Each win streak has parallels, but the same question that arises is the same question that followed the last streak.
Have the Capitals finally turned their season around?
There is evidence to suggest they have. In wins over the weekend over the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins and reeling Toronto Maple Leafs, the Capitals clogged up the neutral zone, got traffic in front of the opposing net and showed an ability to control the puck in the offensive zone with quick, efficient passes.
The Capitals were able to score four times on Vezina Trophy winning goalie Tim Thomas on Saturday through the first two periods due to the above mentioned factors and scored the game-clinching goal Sunday 42 seconds into the third period for the same reasons.
Washington defenders also did their part by keeping traffic out of the eyes of netminders Tomas Vokoun and Michael Neuvirth for the most part; allowing each to clearly see pucks being sent their way.
That effort allowed Neuvirth to record his third shutout of the season on Sunday as the Caps blanked the Leafs.
However, I'm slow to say the Capitals have finally turned a corner in their season. Against the Lightning last Thursday, it took the Capitals two periods to finally start playing the way Dale Hunter and everyone else in the hockey world have been telling them they need to play all season.
On Saturday, the Capitals beat a Bruins team that is just 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and was blasted on Sunday by the Penguins, 5-2. Not the best way to follow an embarassing home loss.
Though the Leafs have played better since the hiring of Randy Carlyle, they are just 1-7-2 in their last 10 games and were only down one goal entering the third period Sunday.
Brooks Laich said after Sunday's game he feels the Capitals have finally become comfortable in coach Dale Hunter's system and solidified their line up.
That very well may be true, but Laich's opinionis based off of wins against three struggling teams. Yes, one is the defending Stanley Cup champion, but one that is not at the top of its game.
The Capitals are about to embark on a 5-game road trip that will in all likelyhood determine whether or not they are a participant in the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs. The trip includes games against the New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers.
If they Capitals have truly made the improvements Laich was clamoring about, they will win at the Islanders and Jets and take one of the final three games of the trip to stay among the top eightin the East and maybe even pass the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead.
But, if they haven't, the Capitals could lose serious ground in their quest for a fifth straight division title and playoff appearance.
The evidence of improvement has been shown, but these flashes have been seen in the past. So far, they've proven to be just glimpses of potential and not an actual turn in the Capitals season.
Hopefully this time, the flashes are real.