Well as I note yesterday I was in Atlanta on business travel last night. It turned out, I couldn't catch last night's 5-1 victory over the Duck as the hotel I was in didn't get Versus and because the game was on Versus it was blacked out on GameCenter....crud. So I was reduced to checking the score periodically and reviewing the statistics, not the most exciting or interesting way to "watch"/follow Ice Hockey I assure you.
That said looking at those two items all you can say is ... wow! It's a great time to be a Caps fan.
Following last nights games, the Caps lead the Eastern Conference with 76 points and were 2 1/2 games ahead of the New Jersey Devils.
Also don't look now but so far this week, the Southeast Division teams are all playing well. Additionally Following tonight's games a lot of shuffling is getting ready to possibly happen in the Eastern Conference. The Ottawa Senators, like the Capitals, are on an eight game winning streak. In the Southeast Division, the Caps lead the second place Atlanta Thrashers by 20 points - that's 10 games. They lead the third place Florida Panthers by 21 points and the fourth place Tampa Bay Lightning by 22 points. However if the season ended today, there would be three Southeastern Division Teams in the playoffs as the current Conference standings look like this:
1st - Washington 53 games played; 76 points
2nd - New Jersey 52 games played; 70 points
3rd - Buffalo 52 games played; 69 points
4th - Pittsburgh 55 games played; 67 points
5th - Ottawa 55 games played; 64 points
6th - Atlanta 53 games played; 56 points
7th - Philadelphia 52 games played; 55 points
8th - Florida 53 games played; 55 points
9th - NY Rangers 54 games played; 55 points
10th - Montreal 55 games played; 55 points
11th - Boston 51 games played; 54 points
12th - Tampa Bay 52 games played; 54 points
13th - NY Islanders 54 games played; 54 points
14th - Toronto 54 games played; 44 points
15th - Carolina 53 games played; 43 points
That's right as of tonight the Capitals are in first (1st) place in the East, while the Thrashers are in sixth (6th) and the Panthers are in eighth (8th). Even more interesting is the current streaks, every team in the Southeastern Division has won the last two or more of their games and the Carolina Hurricanes are about to exit the conference cellar by virtue of winning their last three games. In their last 10 games, every team in the Southeast Division is 0.600 or better - when was the last time that happened? I honestly don't know, it may be a first.
In any case next up for the Capitals are the Florida Panthers tomorrow evening at Verizon Center. I will be watching from my sofa here in Bristow. It should be a good game as the Caps look to make it nine in a row while the FlaCats are looking for their third in a row. The two teams last met on January 13th in Sunrise, FL and the Caps won that one 5-4 in overtime. This is the final regular season meeting between the two teams and so far this season the Caps are 4-0 and have out scored the Panthers 23 - 11 (4-1, 7-4, 6-2 and 5-4 in OT ). In each of their games the Caps have scored 4 or more goals, an average of 4.6, against a team that has allowed an overall average of 2.91 goals against per game. Further over their last 10 games, the Caps are 9-1-0 have scored an average of 5.3 goals per game against a strong schedule while allowing their opponents to score an average of 2.6 goals. That's an average goal differential per game of +2.7 for the Caps. While the Panthers have won their last two games and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, during that stretch they've scored an average of 2.1 goals per game while allowing just 1.6. In fact the only team to score more than 3 goals against the Panthers during their month of January (their last 12 games) was the Capitals. The Panthers come into Verizon off a 2-1 win against the Canadiens in Florida on Tuesday, and they need the points more. However, as long as the Caps stay focused, and stick to their game plan, none of that will matter. The Caps should win the game.
Forecast: Caps 4 - Panthers 2; Winning goal: Backstrom
LETS GO CAPS!!!