By: Ben Brady
The Washington Capitals are on an 8-game point streak going 7-0-1, with that one loss coming to the Winnipeg Jets on the road in overtime. The Capitals sit at the top of a competitive Metropolitan Division with 40 points. The Capitals are currently second in the Eastern Conference, behind only the Montreal Canadians who have 41 points. While Montreal does have the slim lead, they also have three more games played than the Caps. Montreal may want to enjoy the one seed while it still lasts.
The Capitals as usual are led by the duo of Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom on the top line, both totaling 24 and 23 points, respectively. The difference in this year’s team is that Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the team in points scored two months into the season with 27. The 23 year-old Russian does not even play on the top line and is playing like a NHL superstar. Not to mention he has proven himself when the stakes are high, scoring 7 points in last year’s playoffs.
With the additions of TJ Oshie and Justin Williams on the offensive side of the puck add even more depth to this Washington attack. Put on top of that the lethal power-play of the Capitals, which ranks third in the NHL, you have a recipe for success on the offensive side of the puck.
Of course you cannot talk about the Capitals without mentioning goalie Braden Holtby. Holtby was phenomenal for the Capitals in last years playoffs, tallying a save percentage of .944. Not to mention he ranks in the top 6 in save percentage this year, and leads all NHL goalies with 17 wins.
All these great stats this season are great for fans of the Capitals, but they have seen this before. In the 2009-10 season the high flying Capitals led the NHL in points, scoring 121 points heading into the playoffs. While in the first round of the playoffs the Capitals would lose to the Montreal Canadians in 7 games.
Seven of the past eight years the Capitals have made the playoffs and have never made it past the second round. The past three times they have been ousted by their division rival New York Rangers in 7 games. Even being up 3 games to 1 was not enough to beat the Rangers in last year’s playoff series.
The Capitals may be flying high two months into the 2015-16 regular season, it is not something the Washington Capitals and their fans haven’t seen before. Like most playoff bound teams, what matters most happens in April, May, and June.
(Photo: CBS Washington)