When the Capitals woke up this morning, they looked at the NHL standings and saw themselves second from the bottom with a 10-14-1 record and 21 points. Only the Florida Panthers [7-14-6, 20 points] were below them.

In the Southeast Division, which they may have to win just to get into the playoffs, they sit in fourth place, 10 points behind the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes, whom they visit tonight in Raleigh.

A regulation win and the Caps are back where they were on Tuesday morning, eight points behind the Canes. A regulation loss and you can pretty much kiss a Southeast title goodbye.

“I would hope they are feeling the pressure,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “I would hope they do know the standings. If they don’t, that’s not part of being a pro.”

For a team that cruised to four straight Southeast Division titles from 2008-2011 and has made it to the playoffs five straight years, this is unfamiliar ground.

“The expectations with this team over the last couple of years have been very high,” Troy Brouwer said. “We put very high expectations on ourselves and we're not meeting them right now and the fans understand that and they see that."