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Capitals hold on for big win against Red Wings – in Detroit

Mar 19, 2012, 10:22 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin, Todd Bertuzzi, Jay Sharrers AP

If you looked at things from a pure numbers perspective – throwing out contextual bits like the Detroit Red Wings’ serious injury issues – it would seem like the Washington Capitals were doomed to lose tonight. Just factor the two teams diverging records coming into the contest:

Red Wings: 28-4-2 at Joe Louis Arena
Capitals: 13-20-3 on the road; no wins in Detroit since 2003 (according to Stephen Whyno)

Combine those factors with the general air of negativity surrounding the Caps for most of the season and you have a layup for the Wings, right?

Nope. Alex Ovechkin (two goals) and the Capitals had to bite their nails a bit after a 4-1 lead turned to 4-3 in the third period but Jason Chimera iced it with an empty-netter at 5-3 – preserving the DC bunch’s place in eighth in the East in the process.


Capitals update

First things first, the Capitals are pretty far removed from the Southeast Division title race. Florida has three more standings points and two games in hand on the Capitals. Washington’s lone trump card is that they currently hold tie-breaker advantages.

Honestly, Washington’s primary focus is keeping that eighth playoff spot right now – Ottawa’s four-point lead for seventh place makes that a longer term concern. Here’s what the race for the eighth spot looks like now:

8. Washington: 80 points, nine games left (37 wins, 35 in regulation/OT)

9. Buffalo (won tonight): 78 points, nine games left (34 wins, 27 in regulation/OT)
10. Winnipeg (lost last night): 76 points, 10 games left (34 wins, 30 in regulation/OT)

(Click here for a more detailed look at how certain factors lean fairly heavily in Washington’s favor.)

The Capitals obviously have some things going in their favor, including a soon-to-be easier schedule after a tough road game coming up against the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s still far from a sure thing, but Washington can lick its chops imagining the fun that could come from being an uneasy first round opponent for whoever emerges with the first seed.

Declining Detroit

The Red Wings have now lost five games in a row (0-4-1) and are a disturbing 1-6-1 in their last eight games. Considering the way they’re plummeting and the Chicago Blackhawks are surging, it’s quite possible that Detroit might slip to the sixth seed – only four points separate the two teams right now.

Then again, some might say that facing the Pacific Division winner is a preferable fate to facing the rugged Nashville Predators – fresh with Alexander Radulov – so maybe it’s not all bad news for the Winged Wheel.

  1. dagnats - Mar 19, 2012 at 10:31 PM

    Caps played well I the 1st, but we’re lucky to hang on in the 3rd…they are the worst team I have ever seen at trying to exit their own zone…too many turnovers…IF they can get a win in philly I will feel better about our chances…still not gonna make any noise even if they do squeak into the playoffs…

    • dcfan4life - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:32 AM

      Their play in their own zone has killed them. Sure handed players like Alzner, Wideman, and Carlson continue to make bad giveaways unlike in seasons past. The Caps can NOT win high scoring games anymore, so unless these bad turnovers stop, it will be either no playoffs or a quick exit, again…

    • davidpcoelho - Mar 20, 2012 at 10:18 AM

      It’s what happens when you don’t have much talent at the Center position…

  2. bmoreredfury311 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:18 PM

    Too spotty of play there in the third.. tired of watching, this jekyll and hyde play they have..unity is key to success, if they even wanna make the playoffs.

  3. hockinj25 - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    I haven’t seen a replay but it looked like Aucoin did a little slew foot on Quincey before his goal.

  4. cheers4ablumpkin - Mar 19, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    What’s a slew foot?

  5. bensawesomeness - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:15 AM

    Now that you mention it – i’d much rather fall to 6 at this point, play a Dallas team, or a San Jose, or Phoenix. Although the Wings have played the Sharks and Coyotes the last 2 years, i’d be more comfortable than going against a Nashville team who’s on a mission to win the Cup

    Sets up a second round matchup against St. Louis or Vancouver, too

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