By Glenn Kaplan, Staff Writer
The Washington Capitals won the Stanley Cup title last season after being the number one seed in the Metropolitan Division. Following their 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Sunday, the Capitals have moved into first place in the division. Even if Washington doesn’t get the one seed, getting a number two seed is still good news.
Ever since the NHL switched to a different playoff format in the 2013-2014 season, the top two seeds in the Metropolitan Division are a combined 10-0 in the first-round of the playoffs.
The Capitals have been the number one seed in that division for the past three seasons, and they could very well be one again this season. Washington keeps hanging around and could be ready to make another deep postseason run.
The Capitals seem to be a lot better after acquiring winger Carl Hagelin and defenseman Nick Jensen at the trade deadline last week. Those players aren’t super stars, but they will be important role players in Washington’s effort to win back-to-back Stanley Cup Titles.
With it being the final month of the regular season, Washington needs to keep its foot on the gas pedal because of how tight the standings are in the Eastern Conference. It’s a way tougher conference than the west.
This team is too talented, and they are on a mission. Winger Alex Ovechkin has scored 45 goals and recorded 30 assists so far this season with a plus/minus of 10. Wingers Tom Wilson and Jakub Vrana each have set career highs in goal scoring with 18 and 19 goals, respectively. They will both be pivotal role players down the stretch.
Braden Holtby’s record so far this season is 24-16-4 with a .909 save percentage and a 2.94 GAA, along with two shutouts.
I have a gut feeling the Capitals will find a way to be the number one seed in the Metropolitan Division. Even if they don’t get the number one seed, it is very possible they will have home ice in the first-round, and that is a big deal.