As much as we are one big, happy Rink family, the shocking fact is that we don't always agree on everything about the Caps - so throughout the season we'll present mini-roundtables, with each of us weighing in on a pressing question or issue facing the team, a player or the League as a whole. Next up, weighing in on how many steps forward (if any) this team has taken.

Are the Caps making progress?

Kareem: If you frame this question to ask if the Caps are making progress towards learning Adam Oates’ system, then yes, I think they are, even though it’s not showing up in the results. Lack of a full training camp and normal allotment of practices is hurting the Caps right now. But I still think there is progress being made. I liken this transformation to what my kid is going through on his basketball team. The first few games of the season they couldn’t break the full-court press or play good team defense, despite being equally or more talented than most of their opponents. It didn’t look like they would ever figure it out and they were getting run out of the gym a lot.

And then one game it all sunk in, they started winning games, and players started smiling again. Moral of the story: it takes a bit of time to learn new systems. Similarly, the Caps will eventually pick Oates’s system up and figure out how to be in the right place at the right time to force turnovers and generate offensive pressure. Once they do they’ll be a noticeably better team, and they may crack a smile every now and then. (Seriously, how can they not look better?)

Now if you ask me if the Caps are making progress towards the playoffs? Nope. No smiles here. That ship is leaving port.