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Caps clinch first Eastern Conference regular season title

Well, it didn't happen exactly how the Caps had hoped. But Alex Ovechkin and Co. clinched the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for the first time in the franchise's 35-year history when the Devils lost in Philadephia 5-1 a few minutes ago.

Does that make you feel better after today's uninspired 5-3 loss to the Flames? Even a little bit?

By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 28, 2010; 9:35 PM ET
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Next: A banner regular season



Posted by: ludeman95 | March 28, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Devils for losing.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 28, 2010 9:45 PM | Report abuse

It does make me feel better - everything after the first period made me feel better and I still get to enjoy the next 2 weeks enjoying 1st place before the playoffs get started. Still only 15 regulation losses after 75 games is impressive.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 28, 2010 9:47 PM | Report abuse

It's nice to have that off our backs, but I still hope the Caps finish strong to get momentum going into the playoffs.

Posted by: timmyv38 | March 28, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

cool, now I would let the team take about 10 minors/game so they can practice the PK in real game situations...

so Semin can take all the dumb/lazy penalties he wants till the end of the regular season


Posted by: joek443 | March 28, 2010 9:52 PM | Report abuse

joek: that's pretty funny. We do need PK practice.

Posted by: rachel216 | March 28, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Yes, it makes me feel better, because now we're assured of having home ice throughout the playoffs--as small an advantage as it seems mathematically. Besides, "Eastern Conference Champions" has a nice ring to it (a cash register ring as well since I predict a new round of T-shirts will be available soon).

I just want to see us play with purpose down the stretch. We coasted into the playoffs last year, and it cost us in the end. The win-loss ratio for the rest of the regular season isn't important; we should concentrate on getting the little things right before the playoffs start.

Posted by: wocoliz | March 28, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Chicago: has lost..we need 7 pts. to close them out (any point for us, and any loss from them).

San Jose: is tied w/Colorado,..just started 3rd period 2...we need 8 pts. to close them out..

Phoenix: we need 4 pts. to close them out.

Posted by: arioch666 | March 28, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse


Agreed. Would like to see the Caps playing reasonably well at the end of the season so they'll be ready for the playoffs.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 28, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

No. It doesn't make me feel better. Other teams are not going to hand titles over to the Caps during the playoffs. They will have to win those for themselves. To do that, they will have to start playing 60 minute games. It would be nice if someone reminded them that 60 minutes includes the first period.

Posted by: aybee27 | March 28, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I realize the Caps can't win them all. And that even a good team will lose 33% of the time over the course of a season.

But most of us can't help but get paranoid when we lose and look bad losing. And worry that our worst issues will cost us in the playoffs. Yes, I'm guilty of it, too.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 28, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Not a great 1st half of the game, a strong 2nd half. About as to be expected for the remainder, barring the game in Pitt.

I find it funny that the regular season means nothing to loads who post but this game, in the regular season, is somehow indicative of...well, the regular season.

The team is fine, no one got hurt (call of practice, and I think they'll win about half of the remaining games.

See the guys on Tuesday for Ottawa. Nothing like having every remaining game against desperate teams while we're essentially done.

Remember, the playoffs are different. They shrink the ice, the blue lines move during the game, the puck is made of coal, and the #1 can't win. It's horrible!

Posted by: saintex | March 28, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

No more cynicism from me today. I, too, have been following the Caps for 30 years and this is a great accomplishment. I am proud of the team.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 28, 2010 10:08 PM | Report abuse


Now we can focus on fine-tuning this Caps machine for the playoffs.

Posted by: MyPostIDisAfake | March 28, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

As of right now the Caps need 8 points in their last 7 games to win the Presidents Cup. Very doable but it will be tough, every team we have left to play has something left to play for except for Columbus.

Posted by: peteywheatstraw | March 28, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

The win-loss ratio for the rest of the regular season isn't important; we should concentrate on getting the little things right before the playoffs start.

Posted by: wocoliz | March 28, 2010 9:57 PM

I've felt this way for just about the last month. It's more about the process than the results right now for this team. Results usually come when you're doing the little things right but teams do lose games even when they play well. I'd rather lose a game where we execute well and play smart in all 3 zones than win a game where we get outplayed and play a sloppy brand of hockey.

Posted by: tmac2yao | March 28, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse


Me, too.

Congratulations, guys.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 28, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

@rachel216 & joek443,

Should the Caps be sentenced to watch videos of the teams who are good at PK?

Posted by: CapsFan75 | March 28, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

We won't play them unless we're at the big dance, but man I don't want to play against the Avalanche. They look like us when trailing by one in the 3rd. Very exciting hockey team to watch!

Posted by: Raber | March 28, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

id like to see the caps compete every nite. id like to see ovie win the pts and goals.

Posted by: daddy_axe | March 28, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

First it does not make me feel any better. For at least a week we knew this was going to happen the question was just when. If we didn't get a single point the rest of the season we would be having much bigger problems then just not getting home ice in the ECF if we make it.

Second, yes we got outplayed big time in the first period but we also couldn't buy a break. Semin gets hooked and cross checked and no call but seconds later Green gets called for closing his hand on the puck and they score. Also two goals off blind luck bounces off Theo from behind the goal line. And at least one goal that bounced off a shoulder and in. They don't get the two lucky goals off Theo from behind the net and it is a 3-3 game. I hope this makes our guys play harder the rest of the year but it is not like we didn't push back and it is not like all of the Flames goals were lay ups because we couldn't cover them. I think some fans forget exactally how the game went and only looked at the score.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 28, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse


The problem with letting the team 'take about 10 minors/game' during the remainder of the regular season is that (although that would give them plenty of PK experience) the team would also get into bad habits that would really hurt them in the playoffs.

As anyone can tell you, habits (bad or indifferent) are easy to get into, but are extremely difficult to break.

Posted by: critter69 | March 28, 2010 11:01 PM | Report abuse

Was gonna happen either way - its not like they backed into the conference title!

It was one bad game. They have a few more to correct things and find the right line. Coach B whether he will admit it or not this is exhibition season.

If the Bruins wrap up the #8 spot the Caps better not get big headed if they beat them soundly the last two games against. The playoffs are a totally new season.

Posted by: Shiba-fussa | March 28, 2010 11:04 PM | Report abuse

I think it is great that the Caps are playing so many desperate teams in the last 10 games such as Calgary, Boston and Atlanta.

They got a little wake up call today because Calgary played like how the playoffs will be played.

I expect the same from Atlanta and Boston. That means the Caps get 5 of their last 8 games against teams playing a playoff style of desperate hockey.

If that can't get them prepared for what to expect and how to play come playoff time then nothing will.

I think these games will be a good wakeup call for the players and how they will need to play in the playoffs if they want to win.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 28, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse



Posted by: wstwd73 | March 29, 2010 12:04 AM | Report abuse

Honestly...I don't care. I stopped being interested in this season at the Olympic Break. These games are just a long boring opening act for an epic playoff season.

Sean, you should probably send a resume and writing samples privately to WaPo or Tarik. All caps post with spelling errors is probably not the best way to ask for a job.

Posted by: trunkenmath | March 29, 2010 12:25 AM | Report abuse

A lot of strong players had a mediocre game today. I think it's funny reading some of the posts from the last few threads with comments such as the Caps can't win consistently (as if they haven't been the most consistent winning team in the NHL this year). Such typical Caps fan unrealistic anguish.

Bad games happen. Life goes on. Can't wait for the playoffs.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 29, 2010 12:40 AM | Report abuse

Wow. One game man. The thing is no matter what anyone says here it doesn't matter. This team will always have the ability to score. So that's not a playoff worry. Just defensivley have to work a little harder on assignments so there arn't opposing players able to charge the net freely. If you really watch some of those goals today by Calgary they deserve some credit for some really nice shots.

Posted by: vanhalenx | March 29, 2010 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Caps fans expect to win every single game and go 82-0-0 with the top 3 lines each contributing a goal and the goalies either delivering a shutout or holding the opposition to 1-2 goals at most.

Even in success, we demand more. Because we're afraid they will turn out like the rest of the Washington teams from baseball, basketball, and football.

Posted by: dimagus | March 29, 2010 3:03 AM | Report abuse

I view it more like this:

We have a better team than last year. More depth, better defense, and Theo's playing his contract year.

This team loves being the underdog. When they're down 3 without their captain, they can still win. When they're going against the defending eastern conference champions in the playoffs and the golden boy scores first, they come back and win the first two games. The Caps are 6-2 when facing elimination in the playoffs the past two seasons!

Now as soon as this team ascends to the top, everyone seems to have mental issues. Top lines stop performing, defense stops covering, and we start to lean on our goaltenders. Honestly, if this team can solve the mental aspect, I'm confident we'll win the cup this year. The mental game is the only way other teams can outperform us.

I may take flak for this, but I don't see the team sweeping anyone in the playoffs. We have the personnel to do it, but with the way we performed the last two years with series leads... (1-0 against Philly, 2-0 against the Pens)

Anyway, we'll all see come a few weeks from now. Hopefully I'm wrong and we roll our way into the second round!

Posted by: Raber | March 29, 2010 5:04 AM | Report abuse


Be thankful for what you have, or you'll be stuck with a Hanlon type coach if you keep up the booing of the best team in Caps history.

When I watch Caps home games on TV I mute the sound, because I don't want to hear spoiled fans boo. It's better that way.

Bottom line, quit being so spoiled. Most of you are johnny-come-latelies who weren't around during the Cassidy/Hanlon years. Because we're winning doesn't mean that whatever you do is right. Don't be like Penguin fans.


The Rest of the Universe

Posted by: Randy_Hawkins | March 29, 2010 5:33 AM | Report abuse

nice game by Matty P, gotta love the guys energy, some of the other guys should take notice of his back check, that helps out the D a ton!!! lets get back on track and play some statement games and be 100% focused heading into the play-offs. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!

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

@Raber -- It's a truism that teams solidify their play for the playoffs and if the Caps play like they did yesterday they will get knocked out in the first round.

It's also a truism that the Caps are like every other hockey team that will solidify their play for the playoffs. This is such a better team than in past years, benefitting from personnel cahnges but even more due to maturation of a young corps. Can our Eastern Conference opponents say the same about their teams?

I think you're way off.

Posted by: Sonyask | March 29, 2010 7:58 AM | Report abuse


Just take a step back and think about this:

Theo just lost (Yeah, it's on him) for the first time in regulation since January 16.

That makes him 17-1-2 since January 16.

We had a bad period. We didn't even have a bad game. Erase the first period, and we win the game. I know it doesn't work like that, and going into the playoffs, we need 60 minutes from everyone.

Bright spot: Can you believe the little display Perrault put on behind the net? We need to get him in Russian language school if he keeps this up.

Posted by: ey22314 | March 29, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Theo just lost (Yeah, it's on him) for the first time in regulation since January 16.

That makes him 17-1-2 since January 16.

Posted by: ey22314 | March 29, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Technically, he did not get the loss because if Varly had not let in the two, it would have been a tie game. Therefore, the loss is put on Varly. But, it feels like a Theo loss and should be tagged on him.

Posted by: CTCapsPhan | March 29, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I've always thought it better to lose 5-3 in a lopsided game every once in a while than lose hard-fought close ones on a regular basis (just ask Carolina about how that feels)

Caps are in good shape.

Posted by: Rainier1 | March 29, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Best goal tending I saw yesterday came from Green and Ovie when they pulled Varly late in the third.

Posted by: RuskiSi | March 29, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

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