Tuesday, January 03, 2012

An Eye On Standings

The Washington Capitals enter the new year in pretty good shape. Just five points from the lead in the division and a point out from the 8th place spot in the Eastern Conference. They are also riding a three game win streak. It is not the worst position the Caps could be in. It's not the best spot for the Capitals either as the All Star Game looms in the distance at month's end.

The Capitals are making a move on the standings, but it doesn't seem like any of the teams ahead of them in the East are at all interested in helping the struggling club make it into the top eight. In the last week, the Caps have only been able to leap frog the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. With Ottawa and New Jersey getting points last night with a OT win by the Senators, the Caps can not afford a slump in the month of January. Teams with a playoff spots are fighting hard to stay there as the All Star weekend creeps upon the Caps.

Many general managers warn their clubs of falling out of playoff spots before the All Star break as a near impossibility getting back into the top 8 by season's end. Part of that reason is the resolve of teams in playoff spots to stay there by the time post season arrives and the trade deadline when GMs have to make the decision of whether to fish or cut bait.

Last year, seven of the eight teams in playoff positions before the All Star break made it into the post season. Atlanta was the only team to drop out of the top 8 (was in 8th on 1/26/11 and fell to eleventh by season's end). Being in playoff contention at the mid way point of the All Star game makes the rest of the season easier to negotiate.

By the time the All Star break arrives, the Capitals should be within a game (2 points) of division leading Florida, and inside the top eight in the conference to have a comfortable seat for the post season. If not the Caps will have their work cut out for them.

It is not outside the realm for the Caps to be on the outside looking in, they did it in 2008. They won 15 of their last 19 games of the season to overtake the Carolina Hurricanes as divisional leaders and took the only spot in the playoffs from a Southeastern division team that year. A feat which was accomplished on the last three games as they won their last 3 home games against division rivals Carolina, Tampa and Florida to end the 2008 regular season campaign. The Caps would eventually lose in seven games to Philadelphia in the pursuing playoffs.

Caps Notes:
  • Alex Ovechkin named NHL's second star for the last week of the December. 
  • Cody Eakin's short time with the Caps ended as he was recalled to Hershey. A sign that either Mathieu Perreault is feeling better, or someone else is.
  • Capitals play the Calgary Flames tonight and have a chance to try to move up the standings past division foe Winnipeg for 8th spot in the Conference.


Anonymous said...

Ovie took second star honors - you even had a link to the story. Here is another http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=609382

Garrett said...

So he did, my apologies, thanks for the catch.