Well Caitals fans it's been another week of good play by "your" Washington Capitals. The Caps had two games this week, and they won both games in regulation.
The Caps are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and 12-3-1 in their last 16 games (1/3rd of this lockout shortened season). For the entire season thus far, the Capitals are 22-17-2 with 19 Regulation or Overtime Wins that's 0.561 hockey overall (46 out of a possible 82 potential points.) The Capitals are looking and playing like we all thought they could and would for the entire season right now. Over the last 16 games they have been playing 0.781 hockey; and an even better 0.850 over them last 10 games; and that is on pace with the top teams in the League in either conferences. Though it bears pointing out that the Chicago Black Hawks 64 points in 39 games is an even more amazing 0.820 over the entire season. However, the Caps current six (6) game winning streak makes them and the Saint Louis Blues (also on a 6 game winning streak) the "hottest" teams in the league going into the last two weeks of the season. All that being said, it's unlikely the Capitals will "clinch" the Southeast Division and a playoff spot until they either beat Winnipeg on Thursday, April 23rd at Verizon Center or the last day of the season.
Thankfully though for we Capitals fans, our Capitals record is 3.7%; 2 points; 1 1/2 games better than the Jets from Winnipeg. Additionally, even if the Capitals were not in first place in the Southeast Division they would still be a playoff team - in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. To my way of thinking that's an important consideration when thinking about the Capitals post season prospects. The Capitals are hitting their stride at the right time of year - the end o the regular season. That's a positive. The fact they have four vetran players - good vetran players - banged up right now - that's a negative. Next up for the Capitals will be their final meeting this season with the Tampa Bay Lightning for the fourth and final time this season. The Capitals lead the series 2-1 but beating Tampa Bay has been anything but easy for the Capitals. Tampa Bay will no doubt come out playing hard tonight - the Lightning certainly have some very lethal weapons. Weapons named Stamkos, Saint Louis, Lecavalier, Malone, Hedman, Pouliot, and Carle. Tampa Bay's achillies heel this season though has been and continues to be goaltending. At least that's the theory, I say that because Tampa Bay's "team" SV% is a respectable 0.917. The issue is their team combined GAA which is 3.625 vs their team combined GFA which is 3.05. So despite having a positive goal differential, the Lightning have just 17 wins and they have yielded an average of 43.65 shots against per game.
What's all the above mean? It means the Capitals should extend their current winning streak tonight but that's only going to happen if they score 3+ goals and keep their team defense at or close to their average GAA of 2.75/game.