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Caps clinch division

Well, it's official. The Caps clinched their third straight Southeast Division championship thanks to the Thrashers' 2-1 loss in Columbus. They're the first team to claim three straight S.E. titles.

When asked this morning about locking up the division title with a month remaining in the regular sason, Coach Bruce Boudreau shrugged and said:

"The division, if this was three years ago, was a big thing because we hadn't done it in a while. This is not bragging or anything, but at the start of this season our goal was not to win the division. We wanted to win the division, but our goals were loftier. They are still loftier."

"Everybody is not going to have a bottle of champagne. It's not baseball. ...We want to have champagne [when] we win the whole thing. We'll wait."

The Caps currrently own a 33 point lead in the Southeast and are the first team in the league to clinch a playoff spot.

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 11, 2010; 9:35 PM ET
 
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Next: Brooks Laich on Caps clinching playoff spot: 'We have bigger goals'

Comments

Awesome that we clinched the division. Now let's clinch the conference.

And something good came out of the Corvo trade already - Canes beat the Pens 4-3 in OT and Pothier scored the winning goal. That's always a good thing :D

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 11, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Nice...

Posted by: glb8p | March 11, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to the Caps, but this is just the first step towards winning the Stanley Cup. I love Boudreau's interviews.

Posted by: robostop10 | March 11, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

http://www.nhl.com/ice/standings.htm?type=con#&navid=nav-stn-conf

I like the "Y" next to our name. But, yes, obviously, we all expected this to be a foregone conclusion. If we're still winning in June, then I'll really be happy.

Posted by: TheDoubleAlex | March 11, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil

For what it's worth, I apologize again for being a clown a couple of weeks ago. I have no good explanation for my comments other than I was being a clown.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 11, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

You know, the Pens have given up 193 GA in 67 games. The Caps have given up 189. The Sens 190. The only top teams in the East who are significantly better are the Sabres and Devils with 164 and 157 (in 2 less games, so make it more like 168 and 161), respectively. The Caps have scored, however, about 80 more goals than either of those teams.

Last time I checked the team that scores the most goals wins. We seem to be pretty good at winning. Keep up the good work!

Posted by: butcherbaker | March 11, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Can we get Pothier back?

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

@ butcherbaker

what is the probablity of the sharks getting knocked out in the first round for two years in a row?

if that probablity goes down, shouldn't that be bad news for washington, pitt or chicago??

Posted by: joek443 | March 11, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse

@joek443 (reposting from the old thread)

The probability of the Sharks choking in the first round two years in a row? 1/3*1/3 = 1/6 = 11% but it doesn't mathematically affect the probability of anything else that happens this year since they are all independent events. It doesn't even affect the probability of the Sharks choking this year, which would still be 1/3.

Think baseball. If a player bats .300, that means he has a 30% chance of getting a hit every time he steps to the plate, irregardless of what he did in his last at bat.

Posted by: butcherbaker | March 11, 2010 10:15 PM | Report abuse

Thrashers had 12 shots on goal after two periods. They outshot Columbus 17-1 in the 3rd. They scored only once on a deflection off a Columbus player's skate.

Posted by: gebster | March 11, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MR5rEOJwvk

I've been watching this replay all day.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 11, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

@richmondphil: niiiiice. "RMNB", Texas-skatin' mofo!

Congratulations, Caps! Moment over; home-ice up next. Go git it!

Posted by: info_stuporhighway | March 11, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, I apologize again for being a clown a couple of weeks ago. I have no good explanation for my comments other than I was being a clown.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 11, 2010 9:58 PM |

It happens. I go off on here sometimes as well. All good.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 11, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse

For what it's worth, I apologize again for being a clown a couple of weeks ago. I have no good explanation for my comments other than I was being a clown.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 11, 2010 9:58 PM |

It happens. I go off on here sometimes as well. All good.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 11, 2010 10:25 PM | Report abuse


Yeah really, what's your point?

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | March 11, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

@ butcherbaker

if you get a hit every third at bat in baseball, you go straight to cooperstown 5 years after you retire...

the same 1 in 3 chances apply to the caps getting knocked out in the first round regardless of the fabulous season so far... that makes me very nervous

Posted by: joek443 | March 11, 2010 10:35 PM | Report abuse

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MR5rEOJwvk

I've been watching this replay all day.

Posted by: richmondphil

I think that would be an ostensive definition of "strong on his skates."

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

My point? That I am accepting his apology and reciprocating the mutual feeling.

Or his point? That he is sorry?

I don't get what you're asking, but here is another amazing video to watch;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7Igm_x--_M

Posted by: richmondphil | March 11, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

@butcherbaker: Where do you get the 1 in 3? I suspect that if you look at 7 game matchups between teams with the Caps goal differential and the goal differential of whoever will finish 8th, you will discover that the better team in such a match up wins more than 67% of the time.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I think that would be an ostensive definition of "strong on his skates."

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 10:36 PM |

Have you've seen pictures of him in shorts or with his legs exposed?

He's a freak.

Posted by: richmondphil | March 11, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Clinch the SE.

This should be giving BB and crew some more time between now and April to shore up our PK, which is brutal.
Optional practices should not be occuring now. Instead, we should be holding practices focusing on special teams which will allow whatever "rest" we need.

I don't like BB's work ethic mentality at this point in the season.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | March 11, 2010 10:43 PM | Report abuse

I've never heard anyone suggest that he spends a lot of time in the weight room. So, you are right, he is definitely a freak. If he were a baseball player from Texas they would call him "country strong".

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 10:44 PM | Report abuse

@butcherbaker

Your math was off. If we assume that each #1 and #2 seed has a 2/3 chance of winning their quaterfinal series then the chance of all 4 of them winning is:

2/3 * 2/3 *2/3 * 2/3= 16/81

That is approximately 20%. So there is a 20% chance that each #1 and #2 seed will win.

That means there is only an 80% (100%-20%=80%) chance that at least one of those top seeds will lose. That is not a guarantee.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 11, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

@ ccCapsfan

the 1 in 3 probablity is from looking at the last 15 years... # 1 & 2 seeds have lost 21 outta 60 match-ups against #7 & 8 seeds

so that's actually slightly better than 1 in 3

Posted by: joek443 | March 11, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I meant "what's your point?" as in, there is no need for apologies on this blog.

If we needed to keep our posts in check, that would defeat the whole purpose of this forum. I would say I meant no offense by my post but that too would be diverging from the purpose. Way too much info I think...

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | March 11, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

@BernieWolfeFan: It has to be a tough call for BB on how hard to work these guys. With all the games in a short period of time, there is a real risk that you can wear out your big minutes players (Ovi, Green, Backie, Semin, Poti, Schultz). I think we all saw last year that the team looked beat up and tired in the second round of the playoffs. You certainly don't want that.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

@joek443: That's a good stat, although I would suggest that my segmentation(finding matchups with the same goal differential spread) might be more predictive. That said, I'm guessing it's not worse than 1 in 4. Why is it so relatively common for an 8 to beat a 1 in hockey and so rare in the NBA?

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 10:53 PM | Report abuse

If you want to be more accurate on predicting the Caps chances of being eliminated in the 1st roound you should only look at the past #1 seeds and their successes.

Adding the #2s, who theoretically are more likely to be eliminated since they are worse than the #1s and facing a better team than the #8s.

What are the stats for past #1s successes in the first round?

Posted by: sgm3 | March 11, 2010 11:00 PM | Report abuse

ccCapsfan,

We have 5 weeks before the playoffs. If BB wanted to rest the boys, it should be a much closer to April, not now. OK, we can discuss all day long that we will be tweaking our PK and "preparing" for the playoffs then but a day or two rest is much more relevant then rather than now.
Believe me, as a former college level player, specialty teams practices are nothing on wear and tear.
Just saying, from our PK performance the last few outings, we really need get our ducks in a semblence of a row.
I think special teams will be our downfall if we don't go all the way.

Posted by: BernieWolfeFan | March 11, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

@ ccCapsfan

I can only remember a #8 seed beating # 1 once in the NBA... denver beat seattle one year but I believe that was a best of 5, I still remember Dikembe Mutombo's priceless celebration after they beat'em

I believe that comes down to goaltending... you don't necessarily have to have a great goaltender, just a HOT goalie at the right time

Posted by: joek443 | March 11, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

@BernieWolfeFan: I agree completely that the PK is looking like our Achilles heel in the truest sense of that expression. Some recent studies in brain function and athletic activity suggests that visualizing an athletic skill can be just as effective as actually performing it for engraining the correct behavior. Maybe the Caps need to watch a ton of tape on correct PK - like the Rangers or the Devils.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 11:10 PM | Report abuse

#8 vs #1 upset in the stanley cup playoffs

1994 SJ vs. Detroit 4 - 3

1995 NYR vs. Quebec 4 - 2

1998 Ottawa vs. NJ 4 - 2

1999 Pitt vs. NJ 4 - 3

2000 SJ vs. STL 4 - 3

2002 Mtl vs. Bos 4 - 3

2006 Edm vs. Det 4 - 2

2009 Ana vs. SJ 4 - 2

Posted by: joek443 | March 11, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

so that's 8 outta 30 matchup in which an #8 seed beat a #1 seed = 27 percent

Posted by: joek443 | March 11, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

@joek443: So 1 in 4. Interesting.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Uh, joek443, 1994 to 2009 is actually 16 years and 32 matchups. So, 25%.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

no, remember what happened in 2005?

no hockey

Posted by: joek443 | March 11, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

so basically it happens every other year so since it happened last year, sure hope it won't happen again this year

Posted by: joek443 | March 11, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

Ah, I forgot about that. Definitely repressed memory.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 11:30 PM | Report abuse

Fearless prediction: this team will NOT lose in the first round. Now, if the Wings get the 8 spot, you might see the 1/8 upset.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Fearless prediction: this team will NOT lose in the first round. Now, if the Wings get the 8 spot, you might see the 1/8 upset.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 11:32 PM

I agree with this prediction. Since the Blackhawks have Marian Hossa and are guaranteed a SCF loss, the Sharks go down again!

Posted by: ablake70 | March 11, 2010 11:36 PM | Report abuse

@ablake70: Great point. Caps over Hawks in 6!

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 11:38 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to the Caps!

Congrats to Caps for picking EB!
Watch our PK improve just cause we add a couple of new guys who know how to PK.

Posted by: Rocc00 | March 11, 2010 11:48 PM | Report abuse

I saw several of you guys going back and forth the other day about hockey coverage now compared to hockey coverage five years ago. One thing everybody neglected to factor in was the NHL Network. When you factor in Versus, CSN, NBC, and the NHL Network, what we can watch today completely blows away what was available five years ago. It's no contest. When it comes to hockey on TV it is a good time to be a hockey fan. Rock the Red!

Posted by: croftonpost | March 11, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

@croftonpost: And if you are willing to spring for NHL Center Ice, you can really get your fill.

Posted by: ccCapsfan | March 11, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

ccCapsfan,

Absolutely. I also forgot to mention that Yahoo through a partnership with Versus offers games online for free nearly every night. Tonight they had a doubleheader the second of which currently offers Nashville/San Jose.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 12, 2010 12:07 AM | Report abuse

richmondphil: Those two videos were awesome. Ribeiro getting destroyed by Ovie, and then Robidas getting pasted on highlight reels. Ovie is such a well-rounded player.

Someone asked why #1's lose so much more in the NHL than NBA. My theory would be simple parity. One star makes much more of a difference in the NBA than in the NHL. A high minutes player in the NHL gets 16-22 minutes if a forward, 20-27 if a defenseman. A NBA player gets much more, and so has more of an impact. Also, with so many more NHL players, the talent gets spread more. In terms of active players, there will never be less than 650 NHL players; NBA is what, 400 max?

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 12, 2010 12:11 AM | Report abuse

i don't think you can compare basketball and hockey when looking at #8 over #1 in the playoffs. in basketball you can have 5 or 6 guys play 90-95% of the available minutes in a game. 8 beating 1 will be very rare.
in hockey - even if your top '5' average 25 minutes (which i think is high) thats still only 41-42%. you really need the 'team' in hockey to win. then there is the unknown factor of playing against a hot goalie.
there were also best of 5 first round series that were divisional teams and not necessarily 1 vs 8
at this point i'd give the caps a better than 75% chance against any team that finishes #8

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 12, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

timmyv38:
i swear i didn't plagiarize any of my thoughts from your post - i didn't even read it until after i posted
but there is still no comparison between the two sports

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 12, 2010 12:26 AM | Report abuse

You brought up totally different points than me, just glad to see someone else sees some of the same reasons. One thing is, looking at the NHL TOI/G leaders, only 1 forward has more than 22 minutes - Kovalhuk. Even Ovie gets less than that - 21:47, I think. Or maybe 21:17. Something like that.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 12, 2010 1:12 AM | Report abuse

Are we passing around Ovechkin replays? This might be my favorite one of his career so far (even though it's last year):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sajv3uR7vXs#t=1m26s

Awesome things about this play:

1) Wasn't his fault he coughed that up - bad pass
2) He was at a standstill and still caught up
3) The fistbump he gave Varly after the play - always makes me smile :)

Posted by: Raber | March 12, 2010 3:39 AM | Report abuse

I think BB is right on the spot. The Caps could celebrate the SE division title, but the spectre is one of complacency. How does BB keep his troops' collective eye on the brass ring -- the Stanley Cup? The joustling for timem on the 3rd and 4th lines and working on the pk are two areas to keep the team competing, but not burning itself out. I have not heard BB ever talk about the President's Trophey and I like that. Beyond home ice advantage, it does not matter. What matters is having the best team on the ice and ready to play hard every game once the playoffs start. I think Bruce is keeping his focus on the team and the cup, not on the individual players and the regular season -- good for him.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | March 12, 2010 5:52 AM | Report abuse

We're about to take the east since the Pens cant keep pace...

Posted by: SA-Town | March 12, 2010 6:44 AM | Report abuse

The Caps can go 8-6-1 down the stretch and still win the East. Pitts, Buffalo, and NJ can max out at 115. Of course as of this morning the Caps will be no worse than the 3rd seed but of course they are shooting for more than that.

Shiba-fussa stated in an earlier post that the Caps have struggled against teams going for the playoffs. What the heck else does this team need to do to avoid rediculous comments like that? The Caps are 21-2-3 since naming Ovi Captain back on the 5th of January. That is 45pts out of a possible 52 in the last 26 games. Along the way they have beaten many teams fighting for the playoffs or trying to move up in the standings. This team could go 80-2 and people would still find something to complain about.

This Sunday will be fun. I just want to see a good battle. If the Caps lose I'm not throwing in the towel. Also, I really want the Caps to win these games against teams in the Southeast because I'd rather not see any of them squeak in at #8. The first reason is that division teams always give each other heck in the playoffs. The other is, I'm just tired of seeing Tampa, Florida, Carolina, and Atlanta. I want to see different teams come playoff time.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 12, 2010 7:29 AM | Report abuse

@Fan, We may see the Caps playing Tampa or Atlanta for 1v8. I think NYR or Boston is more likely, but we may have a SE division opponent. I hope that the Caps do not have to play a redhot Canes, cuz if the Canes make the playoffs, they will be scorching hot and they play the Caps tight. I think the Caps would win, but the Canes would make it a series. I'm hoping the Caps can sweep their first opponent and not waste so much energy in a 6-7 games series as they have the last 2 years.

Posted by: JIMALLCAPS1 | March 12, 2010 7:41 AM | Report abuse

No. Now is the time that you rest the players. Especially the star players. You are not going to want the players missing practices leading into and during the playoffs. It is more important that players are clicking entering the playoffs. They don't need 4 weeks to get the PK straightened out. The PK was much much better against Carolina. There is a lot of time off during the playoffs. The week before the playoffs they are going to limit the minutes of the starters and will have them working on things like the PK leading into the playoffs. Now is the time to let them get their rest for the stretch run.

Posted by: srobert1117 | March 12, 2010 7:44 AM | Report abuse

there were also best of 5 first round series that were divisional teams and not necessarily 1 vs 8
at this point i'd give the caps a better than 75% chance against any team that finishes #8

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | March 12, 2010 12:19 AM | Report abuse

the current playoff format has been in place since 1994 and 8 #8 seeds have beaten #1 seeds outta 30 matchups... that's 27 percent

so yeah the caps have 73 percent chance against of getting outta the first round, very close to your prediction

every other sport it would be 99 percent

Posted by: joek443 | March 12, 2010 8:04 AM | Report abuse

I don't want to see us wishing for anyone in poarticular for the 8 spot. Remember last year when several folks were elated we were facing the Rangers, under the theory they were the weakest team among the 8? We stumbled and fumbled to victory in 7 games that series.

If it's a team from the East, so be it. We have had the East's number. If it's Boston, Rags, Habs, whomever, fine. Bring 'em on!

Posted by: Sonyask | March 12, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

"If it's a team from the SOUTHEAST," of course.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 12, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

If we think winning the Cup is realistic, which I do, then it shouldn't matter who the first round opponent is. Having said that, I hope its not Montreal. Their power play is among the tops in the league; which could create a matchup problem given the PK struggles.

Posted by: Gould23 | March 12, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

@joek: every other sport it would be 99 percent
-------------------
Just for perspective, the NCAA tournament is pretty close to the 75 percent. 1 vs. 8 is the second round so its not a perfect parallel to the NHL, but since they went to 64 teams the 1 seed has beaten the 8 seed 80.4 percent of the time. (What's really odd is that the 1's are over 90 percent against 9 seeds; you wouldn't think there would be much difference.)

Posted by: Gould23 | March 12, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

It's gonna be so huge in the playoffs that if someone gets dinged up and hurt, we simply re-load the chamber...

Posted by: SA-Town | March 12, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

pk looked much better last game. at least the first few. hoping to see more of belanger on the pk.

Posted by: brian58 | March 12, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I personally would love to see Atlanta, but I highly doubt that will happen.

My guess is that the Caps end up facing Boston or Montreal (I think they will be neck and neck for 7th and 8th at the end).

I really don't see anyone out of the playoff picture today getting in.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 12, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

it's great when division-champs is routine, & am dig'n having more rafter-jewelry!

Posted by: Hattrik | March 12, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

How could anyone say the Caps are struggling against the playoff contenders?

Look at the Caps against the next 8 teams in the East.

Pittsburgh - 2-0-0
Buffalo - 3-1-0
New Jersey - 1-2-1
Ottawa - 1-1-1
Philadelphia - 3-0-1
Montreal - 2-1-1
Boston - 2-0-0
Rangers - 3-1-0

If that's struggling, what do you need to do to be doing well? Only 2 losing records out of those 8 teams, and 5 clear dominations. And that is a 17-6-3 record aginst those teams collectively.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 12, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

I would much rather see Boston then Montreal. Caps have owned Boston the last two seasons and if Savard is out (will refrain from ranting here about the injustice of Cooke not getting suspended) I don't see how they have enough scoring to stay with the Caps.

Posted by: Gould23 | March 12, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

I won't say who I prefer but I will say who I would like to avoid in the 1st round. Here's the list of teams I would prefer they not play in the 1st round:

1)Carolina-red hot right now
2)Tampa Bay-their PP has a nearly 50% success rate against the Caps
3)Montreal-one of the best PP's in the game.

Posted by: croftonpost | March 12, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

(REPOST FROM LAST THREAD)

The Stanley Cup is the main objective...I think we can all agree on that.

That said, the other things DO matter as milestones on the way to that objective:

1) Having clinched the SE Division guarantees at least 3rd seed in the playoffs and home ice in the Conference Quarterfinal.

2) Clinching the Conference guarantees home ice through at least the Conference Final

3) Winning the President's Trophy guarantees home ice all the way through the Stanley Cup Final.

Here's my best guess at how I see the playoffs shaking out if the trends continue status quo through the end of the regular season. Not a prediction...just a guess.

EAST:

Round 1
WAS vs. BOS
PIT vs. MTL
BUF vs. PHI
NJD vs. OTT

Round 2
WAS vs. OTT (Brodeur is done, and Kovy ain't doin it. Boston....are you kidding me?)
PIT v. BUF (PHI too hard against the cap; MTL fast but not balanced enough to defeat PIT.)

Conference Final
WAS vs. PIT (personally, I'd rather face BUF so that we can just play and not have this albatross around our necks. Oh, well...

Given that WAS would remain top seed in the East, I can to see them advancing to the SC final, winning this series 4 games to 2.


Stanley Cup Final:

I see the Caps basically running the table in the playoffs, to represent the East for the Cup.

As for the West, the picture is more murky. That said, I see SJS and CHI seem the most likely teams to emerge from the West, with DET and VAN as the dark-horse candidates.

Bottom line, should the Caps triumph in the East (as we all hope and pray), and we find ourselves in a best-of-7 series with any of these 4 teams for Lord Stanley's Cup, I want 4 of those 7 games played in OUR building!

not the Shark Tank...
not The Madhouse on Madison...
and sure as #e11 not at the "Joe"!!!!

Only the acquisition of the President's Trophy can guarantee that.

'nuff said!


Posted by: Rhino40 | March 12, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Let me ask you guys something...can you name me one team in hockey that rested it's stars for the playoffs?

This is possibly one of the most absurd suggestions I've ever read about hockey. NO other team in the past "rests their stars", but for some reason the Caps have to.

Yeah, reduce their minutes, take them off the PK so they don't get hurt...but take a superstar out of the game because you feel like it's common to rest them? lol...

Posted by: richmondphil | March 12, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I, too was gratified that that Pothier did us a favor against PIT.

That said, If we assume the trend cotinues and WAS does retain top seed, I want PIT either:

1) OUT of the playoffs altogether

or

2) Right where they are now (2nd seed)


While scenario 1 is preferred, it is unlikely. So, under scenario 2 we don't have to face them until the Conference Final.

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 12, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Wow! Awesome! It was just 4 years ago when just NOT being at the bottom of the division was a big achievement. What a huge change. Can all you hockey historians tell me if there is another team that jumped from the bottom to the top in one season and pretty much stayed there for at least as long as we have?

I mean it wasn't a one-time fluke.

Posted by: caraveli | March 12, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

I still can't believe this is happening.

Posted by: nicko | March 12, 2010 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I want to face the best with all of our bullets & all of their bullets firing.
Any round, any place.

No excuses.

Some ppl here who suggest seedings & injury scenarios are just feeding into the skeptics who could inevitably use it to cast our legitimacy & doubt us.

That said @ richmondphil - 1 day off down the stretch for every1 isn't a bad thing or as a reward for these guys winning the division & the conference.

Posted by: Rocc00 | March 12, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

My pleasant surprises so far this year:
Flash
Fehr
Theo
Special mention:
Schultz is borderline since he still doesn't play 'big' for a big guy.
Carlson is 1 year away from being a mega star...you can see him starting to simmer.

Posted by: Rocc00 | March 12, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

@Rocc00

I think Shultz has been the most improved player this season. Just because he doesn't "play big" for a guy his size does not mean he's any less effective. He's the most positionally sound dman the team has by a long shot.

Posted by: jsnyd1 | March 12, 2010 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Where is the Morning Links???? There are what 3 or 4 people working this site. Why cant they come out with something earlier like they use to.

Posted by: washingtoncapitals | March 12, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I guess for scenario 1 to take place, we would (temporarily) have to root for:

NJD
NYR
PHI
MTL
BOS
ATL

(except when those teams play the Caps)

...and whomever else is playing PIT.

It may be hard work, and very distateful to many of us. But if it even makes it mathematically possible to knock PIT out of the playoffs, it may be well worth it!

So, if y'all want to buy into this attempted mojo, here are your rooting instructions for Friday, March 12:

PIT @ NJD: GO DEVILS! (do you have to ask? In regulation please, guys. Oh, and BTW Marty, could you throw in a shutout too, just for "s***s 'n' giggles". And one more thing, please? NO GOALS for Voldemort!)

MIN @ BUF: GO SABRES? meh...

NYR @ ATL: GO RANGERS! (bleacchh! ptui! yeccch! However, an NYR win coupled with a PIT loss closes the gap in the Atlantic Division. That said, and ATL win serves a similar purpose. So the ideal outcome for this one is for NYR to win in OT or SO)

And of course, as always and forever:

GO CAPS!

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 12, 2010 11:58 AM | Report abuse

Best way to fix the PK is to take less dumb penalties. Only smart penalties are allowed.

Posted by: lornemyoung | March 12, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

If the Caps win the cup, the topic on this board will shift to why we didnt sweep all four series, and that next year must be better.

Posted by: SA-Town | March 12, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree jsnyd1, Sarge has been the most improved player by a long shot this year. You rarely hear the bashers as far as he is concerned anymore unless its the "he doesn't play up to his size" BS. The guy uses his reach and position to keep opposing forwards at bay.....I dare say if he started throwing his weight around ala Phaenuf he would end up out of position a lot just like the aforementioned Phaenuf.

Posted by: PhilR | March 12, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

lornemyoung - I was scrolling to the bottom with the intention of writing pretty much what you said. Stay out of the box! Not only will that negate the risks of a marginal PK, but keeps us at full strength for more of the game. 5 minors = half a period down a man. In our case, it's a double whammy.

Posted by: gonchpup | March 12, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

in the old days it wasn't uncommon to kill a couple minors/period... nowadays in most games all they have to kill is 2 or 3 minors/game.

if they just had a PK unit that was a little better than average, we wouldn't be having a daily discussion about it.

at this point I'd try using EVERYONE to see if it gets any better

Posted by: joek443 | March 12, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

You rarely hear the bashers as far as he is concerned anymore unless its the "he doesn't play up to his size" BS....he would end up out of position a lot just like the aforementioned Phaenuf.
Posted by: PhilR | March 12, 2010 12:01 PM |

Included in his repertoire must mean still screening our goalies & not clearing the crease apparently.

I support all the guys & have been on record as saying Schultz is the most improved - as evident by his +- play. But there is a reason Chara is Chara & Schultz is Schultz at this moment.

Posted by: Rocc00 | March 12, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

All of the concerns about the poor PK are warranted, and the discussion of the prevalence of good PK teams among the champs is apt.

The only caution I would add is the following observation -- we are so far ahead of other teams in PP% that you can't look at PK alone to find our destiny. For the PP, here are the East leaders:

WASH 25.6%
MONT 24.2%
PHIL 22.8%
TB 19.0%
NJ 19.0%

That's a pretty steep fall-off. So, we're 2.7 percentage points behind NJ in PK, but 7.6 percentage points ahead in PP, for instance.

That stated, we must and we will improve our PK.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 12, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

My math is bad -- We're 6.6 percentage points ahead of NJ in PP%.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 12, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to say it again...I think Schultz's recent play has more to do with him being paired with Greenie and often times being left all by his lonesome in the D zone. I think it is a good pairing because Green needs a very responsible D man for support, but schultz unfortunately will be left in some pretty precarious positions because of it.

Posted by: capscoach | March 12, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Nothing matters but winning the Stanley Cup. NOTHING. If they don't win the Cup, it is a failed season. Anything else is loser think.

Posted by: dcsportsdude | March 12, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

capscoach, give it up....some here just will not cut Schultz a break no matter what....doesn't use his size, screens the goalie, not clearing the crease....blah blah blah! The man leads D-men in +/- for a reason, and no it doesn't have everything to do with him being paired with Green either. The man has made some amazing outlet passes this year starting breaks....but hey, keep on hating people.....that is what many of you do best!

Posted by: PhilR | March 12, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Referencing tonight's game, I have really grown to dislike our division rivals particularly Tampa Bay and Carolina. Ted used to be worried about the lack of rivalries within the SE division. I feel pretty confident in saying that ship has definitely sailed.

Posted by: blackandred777 | March 12, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I agree jsnyd1, Sarge has been the most improved player by a long shot this year. You rarely hear the bashers as far as he is concerned anymore unless its the "he doesn't play up to his size" BS. The guy uses his reach and position to keep opposing forwards at bay.....I dare say if he started throwing his weight around ala Phaenuf he would end up out of position a lot just like the aforementioned Phaenuf.

Posted by: PhilR

Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner. If the guy does what a dman is supposed to do who cares how he does it? Well, obviously several people do because I've had this debate with other posters. I'm with you guys limit the other teams scoring opportunities, and don't commit turnovers and I'm happy.

Posted by: BetterOffWithFedorov | March 12, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Winning the division and locking up the conference best record is fine, but it is more important to keep the drive and the mental edge sharp by trying to win and keep up with the other teams going into the Playoffs. That is why I love the moves that GMGM made to increase forward depths and promote internal competition amongst the 3rd and 4th line. This forces the team to play for something and increases contribution by players not named Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Green or Knuble. Look at how many wins the Capitals have won since the trade with very little contribution from those five players. In fact the only game the Capitals lost was when Ovechkin is forced to score goals because the rest of the team was shut down by a hot goalie. The reason why some high seeded teams get upset by lower seeded teams in the playoff is because of momentum and mental mode of preparation. If is so important to keep up with teams such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston and even Carolina down the stretch just to keep the mental and physical preparation up so there will be no drop off if they ever meet in the Playoffs. The Capitals can further "mentally drain" the rest of the conference by keeping up with all the hot teams (as well as beating them head to head down the stretch). That will definitely send more of a message and prevent any upsets by forcing the other teams to play consistently beyond their capabilities, which they obviously can not do based on the discrepancy in total points earned so far.

Posted by: JohnWWW | March 12, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

the caps have scored 67 PPGs and 3 SHGs... allowed 57 PPGs and 6 SHGs so that's plus 7 as far as their specialty teams go

SJ is plus 21 and chicago is plus 18.

Posted by: joek443 | March 12, 2010 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, Chara is Chara. All of you that have NHL Center Ice watch some of the boring Bruins games. Chara CONSTANTLY gives the puck away and loses every race to the puck. Boston can friggin' have Chara and his inflated salary. Chara also takes a lot of penalties for holding, hooking, etc. You ever want to see what he's really made of check out his panic or pissed off mode, he's totally useless. When he was given the Norris last year even the broadcast crew was a bit surprised and they considered it a lifetime achievement award.

Schultz plays to his strength. He doesn't need us to tell him he's not the fastest player on the ice so he doesn't step up to make a bone crushing hit in the neutral zone because he knows he doesn't have the speed to get back into position.

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 12, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

@ joek443

You are a SERIOUS downer! almost every post I see of yours is soooo negative! I mean of course I see room for improvement, but lets not be so critical that we can't recognize what a good team we have.

Posted by: capscoach | March 12, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

@ capscoach

I'm not being critical, I'm just giving you the stats... just because I don't act like this team has won something significant lately like some of you, doesn't mean I'm being critical

Posted by: joek443 | March 12, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

It just seems like you rarely have something positive to say and it is a little annoying...i mean by all means say whatever you want...lord knows I do, but can we at least recognize that we have a very successful team so far...I mean why focus on the bad?

Posted by: capscoach | March 12, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

new post

Posted by: PhilR | March 12, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

because if they don't improve on the "bad" within a month, they're NOT likely to go anywhere in the playoffs.

BB is as critical as anyone about the caps and he and I want the same thing... we both want this team to win.

you can be a cheerleader if you want but that's not my thing

Posted by: joek443 | March 12, 2010 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Agree that the PK must improve. Also agree that lazy/untimely acts that incur penalties must stop.

However, let us assume--for the sake of argument--a perfect world in which Caps players never did anything that a strict interpretation of the NHL rulebook would penalize.

Even if such a thing became reality, there would still be the ever-present possibility--no, the ever-present problems of official bias and phantom calls.

Maybe we Caps' fans do have a persecution complex...but history teaches us that it's not entirely unjustified. Therefore, yes, by all means work on the discipline angle, but have a well-prepared PK too.

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 12, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

I'm not being critical, I'm just giving you the stats...

Posted by: joek443 | March 12, 2010 1:18 PM

Do you have stats for someone in our own conference?

Also- this continues to still be funny

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2lEUxwngZA

Posted by: Fro_ | March 12, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

No to get us off this amazing topic (wake me when it's the SC finals), but anyone else with Dish Network find that Versus is there one day and gone the next only to get the "it's not in your package, but for $10 extra a month it could be" pitch. I think that they did this to me last time (before Stars game) the Caps were on Vs. I upgraded then, but not this time. Seriously considering FIOS... Any thoughts?

Posted by: kkd76 | March 12, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Schultz plays to his strength. He doesn't need us to tell him he's not the fastest player on the ice so he doesn't step up to make a bone crushing hit in the neutral zone because he knows he doesn't have the speed to get back into position.
Posted by: fanohock1 | March 12, 2010 1:12 PM |

No1 is asking him to. Any idiot hockey fan knows that is not the way the game is played these days.
I think Schultz fanboyz - (Iam a fan of his not a fanboy) - get all up in arms anytime something constructive is said.

If you are going to say he is +37 or something make sure you mention how Green or Ovie is helping pad that number too.

We all want the team to be better & Schultz is definitely on the rise.
But he ain't there yet & like most of the d-men, could stand to use some muscle to clear around the net.
6'6" dancing with the starz in front of your goalie in the NHL isn't a good thing.

& Standing tall in front of your goalie isn't enough. Apparently those levys were enough to stop the tides in New Orleans too huh?

Posted by: Rocc00 | March 12, 2010 1:52 PM | Report abuse

The Caps defense last year let the team down as the playoffs wore on for several reasons.

1. Mike Green had a shoulder that needed surgery and his play on both O and D was far off what it had been during the regular season. Where was Green's offense on the Power Play against Pitt?

2. Tom Poti and John Erskine were both playing with a broken foot. Goes in part to explain how the Pens were able to consistently get Malkin behind the Poti tandem on long lead passes out of the defensive zone.

3. Brian Pothier was coming off a 2 year absence from the NHL and only had a short time on a conditioning assignment to get ready to play in the premiere professional tournament, the NHL postseason.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 12, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Next question. What's up with the site? It seems the next article and its comments are not loading properly.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 12, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

The Caps ran away with the weakest division in the league . The other four teams are in the bottom half of the conference standings. Ov looked really concerned after the boarding hit....specially when it looked like the refs were actually gonna call him for it.....

Posted by: jerryc57 | March 14, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

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