Something has to change.

This is no longer about patience or seeing the rough times through during that annual regular season swoon before the Washington Capitals find themselves and their games just in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

With each recent close loss or fall-flat night against one of the NHL’s weaker franchises, it feels bigger than that.

It feels like it’s time to break up the nucleus, to shake up a roster with just three players not under contract for next season. It can only happen through a substantial trade, and that is why it is time for Mike Green to go.

It might sound knee-jerk, especially given the Capitals’ myriad problems that have little to do with the underwhelming veteran defenseman.

But if a seventh straight postseason is the goal, if not wasting a single season of Alex Ovechkin’s and Nicklas Backstrom’s prime is really paramount — if this season is going to be about more than giving good, young kids experience — then the team committed to going green at goalie and on defense has to seriously consider parting with Green.

Because unlike other players, Green might still bring the Caps something good in return, maybe even a veteran tough guy, a defensive defenseman for a change.

If George McPhee is genuinely in survival mode during the last year of his deal as general manager and hasn’t been given reassurances of his return, this might be his last card left to play. Yet another gamble on patience right now — a gamble this fan base is frankly sick of betting on — might not be worth it.

By Friday, when the Capitals open a five-game road swing in New Jersey, they will not have won a hockey game in two full weeks. In what feels like a heartbeat, they have gone from second to seventh in the Metropolitan Division and are four points out of the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.