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Washington Capitals

Caps Secure Playoff Hockey

Washington CapitalsThis week the Washington Capitals became the first NHL team to ensure that they would be playing beyond the end of the regular season on April 11th. It was in fact the Atlanta Thrashers’ loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last night, after the Capitals had suffered a shootout loss to the Dallas Stars and then grabbed a 4-3 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the week.

A couple of my dad’s business associates were at Verizon Center for the electrifying Dallas game and they were kind enough to share some of their views on the experience. “Loud. The entire arena in red”, they write, “Backstrom’s assists are phenomenal. Caps fell asleep in the second half but Ovie saved another one with an amazing juke. Not a pretty shootout. Stars win. Verizon Center deadly quiet.”

It was certainly an exciting game to watch and Ovechkin did save the Caps with a classic Ovechkin goal after the Stars had rallied in the third to lead 3-2. Ovechkin’s excellent performance, after he’d been in a bit of a slump recently, was outdone, though, by Marty Turco. The Dallas goaltender stopped 49 of 52 shots from the Caps to give the Stars a chance of coming back from the 2-0 deficit they face going into the third period; a chance they gladly took. Once again the Caps’ penalty killing let them down and if it weren’t for the great play of Backstrom and Ovechkin, they wouldn’t have picked up even one point.

After sitting out the Dallas game as line-up changes continued, Thomas Fleischmann was the difference-maker in the Canes game, hitting the winner with 1:40 left in OT. Mike Green showed why the Caps have the number one power play in the league with two PP goals. Alex Ovechkin also notched assists numbers 49 and 50, taking him to 94 points from 59 games this season. But I think the key to the Caps’ increased success this season has been Nick Backstrom. The young Swedish center has already reached 80 points again, but he also has 26 goals from 67 games this season, compared with 36 from 164 in the previous two seasons. Now that Ovechkin is getting more help in the goals department, with not only he and Alex Semin, but the likes of Backstrom, Knuble, Laich and Fleischmann reaching the 20 goal mark (okay Flash is still one goal off but he’ll get there soon), is the reason why Ovie now has 50 assists, and why the Caps have managed 264 goals. That’s an average of 3.94 per game.

The Capitals have now secured the South-East division for the third straight year with an incredible thirty-three point lead over the Thrashers, and have a healthy fourteen-point lead over the Penguins in second in the Eastern Conference. The challenge now is the President’s Trophy. With the Sharks just four points behind on 95, and the Blackhawks two points further back, and both those teams having played one less than Washington, the race for the overall NHL lead is heating up. This Sunday’s game with the Hawks looks to be a wild encounter.

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2 comments for “Caps Secure Playoff Hockey”

  1. The other day I was surprised to see the Sharks listed in the standing as “secured playoff spot”, it seemed like no one talked about it in the local media - but then again the Sharks making the playoffs isn’t groundbreaking news, the Sharks going deep in the playoffs is, however, another story!

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | March 12, 2010, 10:57 am
  2. I was also surprised at the amount of goals that the Washington Capitals score. They’re averaging almost four goals every game, which is unheard of. They just score, score, and then score again. It’s definitely the kind of hockey the fans like to see, and it definitely gets them on their feet. I can hardly wait to see if they can keep that up in the post season.

    Posted by EricNo Gravatar | March 12, 2010, 9:00 pm

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