HARRIS: As Caps’ playoff push disintegrates, what’s next?

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I didn’t get to see the Capitals play live on Tuesday and “play” may be a poor choice of words since they didn’t do much of that in a 5-0 loss at home to the Dallas Stars. Not the kind of performance a playoff push requires.

SEE ALSO: It’s getting late early for Capitals’ fading playoff chances

The smartphone provided details of the first period, the radio details of the second and the television details of the third. All three devices told the same story: horrendously bad game.

By not being there, I didn’t get to ask the question I would have liked to have answered afterward: Are you embarrassed by this?

Because they darn well should be.

Professionally, I like the Caps a lot. They’re relatively easy to deal with, they’re stand-up guys for the most part and they do a solid job of handling their media responsibilities. They’re extremely good in the community and they don’t show up on police logs, at least as far as we know.

If I had to list my 10 favorite athletes to interact with in the area, probably half would play for the Caps.

But while that’s all nice and warm and fuzzy, it doesn’t excuse performances in the final games that draw boos from the home crowd. It doesn’t excuse playing like a team that’s eager for the season to end, especially so soon after a road trip that actually made a seventh straight appearance in the Stanley Cup playoffs seem possible.

They’ve been outscored 9-2 in their past two home games, against Boston and Dallas. They played poorly for the first half of the game against Boston and for most of it against Dallas.

How can that be, when so much is at stake?

Is it fair to expect any more out of a team that has had ups and downs all season and wasn’t looked on as a Stanley Cup contender anyway?

Yes, it is very fair.

From March 18-22, the Caps were on a three-game trip out west and they earned five of a possible six standings points in games at Anaheim, at Los Angeles and at San Jose. That’s three of the best teams in hockey and even the most optimistic fan could not have expected five points in that stretch.

But they got them, so that makes it very reasonable to expect they’d get more than two in a four-game stretch against the Kings at home, the Predators on the road, the Bruins at home and the Stars at home. They’ve lost four straight since that successful trip, two in regulation and two in shootouts.

They’ve put themselves in position of probably having to win out in their final six games to keep their playoff streak alive. Four of those six are on the road.

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