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Surging Capitals closing in on Southeast Division lead

Apr 2, 2013, 10:48 PM EDT

So, how about those Washington Capitals?

After that dreadful 1-6 start to the condensed regular season, the Capitals are now closing in on the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets, thanks to a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.

The Capitals had just 19 shots on the Hurricanes’ goal, but scored five times, including three times in the second period to take over the lead and control.

Leading the Capitals against the Hurricanes and Washington’s late-season surge: Alex Ovechkin.

Since March 17, Ovechkin has 10 goals over a nine-game span and has 15 points. And the Capitals have gone 6-3-1 in the last 10 games.

With the win, Washington got past the Hurricanes and into 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Winnipeg Jets, leaders of the Southeast Division, are only two points ahead of Washington, and the Capitals have two games in hand.

The Jets are staggering around right now, with three wins in their last 10 games.

There may be reason for optimism in Washington, but are the Capitals’ playoff chances and hopes realistic? The Capitals are 10-3-0 against other teams in the Southeast. The Capitals have 12 games remaining in their schedule, and five of those are against teams in the Southeast.

The Capitals are 4-5-0 against teams in the Northeast Division, and six of their remaining games are against teams in that division.

  1. sportsfaninyyc - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:02 PM

    About time Ovechkin manned up and started earning that paycheck and the C on his jersey.

  2. pitpenguinsrulez - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    Looks like Ovie found some steroids again

  3. stakex - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Of course the Caps playoff chances are realistic considering they could over take the Jets with a win in their next game, and with Ovechkin playing every bit as good as his old self…. they are a dangerous team right now.

    • ziplock10 - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:37 AM

      What is lost in all this is how the last placed teams in playoff seeding almost always make a dent! The final record is always nice, but its whose hot during the “second half” of the season. And with a short “first half”, its conceivable for them to win.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:41 AM

      dangerous if you are a SE division team, i dont think anyone else in the east cares or is worried. i’m not impressed at all, they keep beating up on terrible teams and losing to teams they should lose to. they barely beat the rangers in a SO, lost to philly, lost to NYI, barely beat the terrible sabres and beat the cam ward-less hurricanes. i wouldnt be too excited looking at the schedule coming up and they should be hoping the SE continues to tank for them.

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        I understand your Pens have had a rough go over the past five days, but dont hate on my Caps because the are playing better and earning points to make a push at the division lead and/or playoff spot. We battled back in the Ranger game to get 2pts, lost a lead in Philly but at least came out with a point, a late 3rd period mistake lead to the game winner against the Isles, and we battled back against a pesky Sabres team (the same team that went into the Pens house and ended the 15 game streak) to get two points. It not the Caps fault that Ward got injured, and they are playing who is put in front of them. They are earning their keep, despite the slow start, injuries, new system, new coach, slumping players, they are two out of the division lead and three out of a playoff at-large spot. I’m proud of this team.

  4. phlyerzpwnu - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:28 PM

    That and they have have 2 games in hand

  5. canucks30 - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    The Southleast Division

    • bethgoesglobal - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:12 AM

      You could just as easily say “The Northwest Division” except that the MN Wild have been playing Much better than they have in years.

      I’m not saying that the “Nucks haven’t deserved to make it into the playoffs; they’ve won the last 2 Pres. Trophies after all. However, being the 1st in the NW division has not been the most difficult thing these last many years, now have they.

  6. rg3isvictory - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:37 PM

    Here we come!!!

  7. rg3isvictory - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:51 PM

    Aw, pitpenguinsrulez is as much the whiners and big baby his team Captain is known for being.

  8. vanindeed - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:59 PM

    Shows how weak that division is.

  9. rg3isvictory - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    True, this division is terrible and shouldn’t be allowed the 3rd playoff spot!

  10. 19to77 - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:07 AM

    Same story as every year – the Caps suck and fail for the first half, scrape their way to a technical conference “championship” (against utter scrub rosters instead of competitive hockey teams) and get the doors blown off them in the first round by a legitimate contender. They’re children amongst men, as the whole Southeast Conference will continue to be until they have a GOOD NHL team to match up with regularly.

    • wethog66 - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:20 AM

      The Caps didn’t get blown out in the 1st round last year. 7 game series win over the Bruins. And they took the Rags to 7 games in the 2nd round. Rags fans will agree that series was nothing close to a blowout.

      Do a little research before commenting next time.

    • cb7435 - Apr 3, 2013 at 8:41 AM

      how dumb are you? of the last 8 stanley cup champions 4 were from the eastern conference. 2 from the SE, 1 from the ATL, 1 from the NE. Living in an era where you are judged by winning it all youd think that 2 out of 8 is pretty good for a division no?

      • jpelle82 - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:16 AM

        you cant argue 8 yrs ago and say its the same division…its clearly not and back then it wasnt that competitive either…the year the lightning won – they were 28 pts ahead of ATL for crying out loud, just because they won the cup doesnt mean their division was competitive.

  11. bethgoesglobal - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:22 AM

    Everyone should just quit the bit*@*ing already. Next season everything will change and you guys will have to stop griping about how the Caps only make it because they’re in the SE division. Now I remember the Caps qualifying for the playoffs regularly when they were in the Patrick Division, which is essentially what we’ll have next year. SO, until then just sit back and accept reality- that no matter How bad the top team of the SE is they’ll make the playoffs- it’s just the rules. Ain’t life a bit*@!

    (and yes I also remember that they have only made the finals once and regularly didn’t make past the first round, but that’s not the debate we’re having here, now is it)

  12. watermelon1 - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:34 AM

    People love to hate ocechkin, but fail to realize how terrible most of the roster is. Guys continually pass up open shots for whatever reason… Fear or otherwise.

    The defense is terrible in front of holtby.

    And they give up entirely too many stupid penalties.

    Last night the penalties weren’t there and the caps won. Go figure!

  13. capsfan19 - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:35 AM

    Im not sure the caps have the piece to win a cup. But then again who knows… I will say this. When they do win a cup ALL you haters will have NOTHING to say.

  14. bruinz99 - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:52 AM

    Pens 56 pts. Canadiens 51 pts. Jets 38 pts…I wouldn’t call the Caps surging. They are just floating back to the top of the toilet bowl southeast division. Good luck next year Caps. Realignment here we come.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:42 AM

      exactly

    • blackfoot11 - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      So what’s your point? The SE has been a good division in previous seasons. Funny how you cherry picked an anomaly of a season for your insult.

  15. nicknyhc - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    So Ovechkin has scored 10 goals in the last 9 games with a medicore team. Crosby has scored 15 all year with an all-star line up around him….and Ovi sucks?

    I like how that works.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:28 AM

      you must not watch hockey. scoring goals isnt everything, unless your name is ovechkin or marian gaborik. good to see he is earning his paycheck, but clearly not better than crosby in any facet. james neal scored 40 goals last year, most on the pp, was he better than ovechkin by your standards then? ovechkin plays with a 1st round pick and 100 pt producing center…crosby plays with 2 undrafted guys who have barely broken 60 pts in a season

      • nicknyhc - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:37 AM

        If you’re making the argument that Oveckin is playing with more talented players than Crosby then you’re high. Seriously.

        Both Sid and Ovi are great offensive players. My point is, imagine what Ovi could do with a better lineup around him. Sure Ovi plays with Backstrom, but Sid plays on the most offensively loaded team in the league. You think Sid would have that many assists if he played for the Caps? I doubt it.

        Ovi plays a much more physical game than Crosby, can fight, and isn’t constantly out hurt. He made the mistake of signing a long term deal with the wrong team. Had Ovi signed with the Rangers, Bruins, Hawks, Wings, etc he’d be even more of a monster. Unfortunately he plays for a team that thinks putting him on a line with Jay Beagle, switching his position, or benching him is the answer.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:10 AM

        we saw what ovechkin did with a lineup around him…remember the art ross and hart trophies…the rocket richard…he put up huge numbers with a stacked team around him. you’re talking out of your a**. he still has green and backstrom and now ribiero around him and you can see it pay off on the pp – where he still looks like the ovechkin of old. the great ones persevere above all odds and make the players around them better. if you are saying ovechkin is only as good as the team around him then you are saying he isnt worth his paycheck….sad argument if you are a caps fan. please show me an ovechkin fight by the way…crosby has at least 5 fights in his career if my memory serves me… and i know he has won at least 4 of them. half of ovechkin’s points are on the pp, less than a third of crosby’s pts come from the pp – the only time he plays with malkin and neal. the rest of the time he is putting up points 5 on 5 with kunitz and dupuis. look at crosby’s 5 on 5 numbers compared to ovechkin – he has more goals 5 on 5 than ovechkin does, he has a better defensive game +/- and killing penalties as well. you dont see ovechkin out there on the pk blocking shots dude. for how many years have the pens been looking for a winger for crosby? he has played with colby armstrong, freakin bill guerin, kunitz, dupuis and made them all better and put up mvp caliber numbers doing it. these are facts and things that make you a better hockey player…you are living in hypotheticals but trying to make an objective argument…take off your rocking red colored glasses and see the truth man…ovechkin couldnt hold crosby’s jock.

      • nicknyhc - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:38 AM

        So you’re comparing Backstrom, Green, and Roberio to Malkin, Iginla, Neil, Letang, Kunitz?

        You honestly think Crosby has been in more fights than Ovi? That’s absolutely laughable. To say that Crosby plays with an edge is a joke. In terms of toughness and physicality he isn’t in the same league as Ovechkin. I’ve seen 12 year old girls fight better than Sid. The only Crosby fight that comes to mind was last year when Giroux used him as a punching bag after the Hartnell hair pulling fiasco. Go on youtube and search Ovechkin fights. While you’re at it do a search for the hit he laid on Jagr in the Olympics and the hit he threw in the KHL earlier this year that put his own head through the glass on the follow through.

        So you’re saying that Ovi plays on a stacked team but Crosby single handedly carries the Penguins? LOLZ.

        By the way, not a Caps fan. Just a hockey fan with a pair of eyes and a fully functional brain.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        look at the facts, go to hockeyfights.com dude. he has and does fight and he wins. ovechkin has 2 fights on his card if you even want to call them that. giroux never even swung on him, crosby got him twice as he got the refs involved, giroux held on for dear life and i dont even count that as a fight…do your research you look dumb or just a guy who just started watching hockey this year. you can take iginla off your list since they havent ever played together other than the olympics and yes crosby plays with neal letang and malkin on the PP. thats it, he doesnt have malkin or neal 5 on 5. you wanna compare pedigree of kunitz to backstrom, you will lose there too. green and letang are comparable and semin was ovechkin’s neal. not the pens fault the caps couldnt keep semin or they would be just as stacked as the pens are right now. ovechkin makes his $$ on the pp, crosby makes his 5 on 5. if youve ever watched or played hockey then you know there’s an advantage there when you’re on the pp. ovechkin hitting defensemen as they clear the puck out of the zone doesnt make him an effective player, it just shows he didnt win the race or battle for the puck, which happens a lot. watch how many hits crosby endures in the corners and he almost never loses one on one with anyone in the corners, thats where he makes his living, not on the top of the circle on the pp. open your eyes and use your brain man, you are fighting a losing argument here.

      • nicknyhc - Apr 4, 2013 at 4:10 AM

        You’re right guy.

        Sidney Crosby is obviously the most feared fighter in the entire league.

    • blackfoot11 - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:54 AM

      I would tell anyone to go look at the goals, assists, and point totals for both players since both came into the league in ’05-’06. The point totals are in excess of 100, with Ovi’s goals being higher and Sid’s assists being higher. The loan exception is ’09-’10 where side had 51 goals and 58 assists to Ovi’s 50 goals and 59 assists. The last two season have seen a dip in both players as Sid was battling injuries and Ovi was high and low. I wonder if Sid being out made Ovi’s competitive fire burn out, as his chief rival and was out of the game. Off course Sid has the upper hand b/c he has hoisted an SC. This year, Sid started hot and maintained his consistent play, while Ovi started slow due to position/scheme adjustment, and has found his game in the last month. Both are exceptional and good for the league.

  16. rockthered1286 - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:19 AM

    I’m not making excuses- they sucked to start the year. No denying that. But I really didn’t expect much from a team with a new coach, new system, and star player switching positions, all with no preseason, not much practice to speak of, and a shortened regular season. HOWEVER… if you take that 1-6 start away, we’re talking about a 16-11-2 team whose last 3 loses were all 1 goal games. This team continues to grow together and get stronger as the season goes on. They have the #1 power play unit in the NHL right now. There’s absolutely no reason that they cannot get into the playoffs and make a slight push into the second round. Do I think they are going to beat any of the teams that have gone “all in” and brought in a ton of vets on 1 year deals and gave up a ton of future picks in the process? Not likely. Those teams are far too loaded (at least for this season). But it’s all about the hot hand, and right now? The Caps have a hot goalie, their star player scoring consistently, and they’re firing on all cylinders. We’ll see if they can keep it up for the remainder of the regular season, but as of now? All signs point to another playoff bound team.

    • jpelle82 - Apr 3, 2013 at 10:35 AM

      and if you magically take away the 4 losses the ducks had in a row and they would be first in the west…what is this fantasy land? i dont get where you are getting the hot hand thing from…this is a team that blew a 2 goal lead in the 3rd to lose to philly a couple days ago. their “best” defensemen single handedly lost the islanders game for you and holtby has been average at best – even in the buffalo game – which was a freakin win – he had a .850 save%. this team is not playing that well, they are just playing weak teams…its a benefit of a short schedule where they dont have to face any teams from the west and can beat up on a weak division and conference. holtby is sub .900 in the last 5 games…hardly a hot goalie

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:07 AM

        So the Pens didn’t benefit from the short-season and playing weak teams in the East as well? You talk about the SE division this year when the Atlantic division is riddled with inconsistent teams also, with the exception of the Pens. If the Caps are pushing their way up to the top of a weak division, then the one can argue the Pens have been the class of an inconsistent and weak Atlantic.

      • jpelle82 - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:50 AM

        look at the last 5 years and compare the records vs the western conference for the caps then look at the pens. the teams in the last 5 years that made the conf finals were pit, pit, philly, bos, nj – 4 out of 5 are ATL division. the ATL puts at least 3 teams in the playoffs every year and often 4 (poor islanders).

        now look at this year. pens are 3-0 vs caps and have only lost 2 games to the top 5 in the east (loss to jets and tor). compare the caps and they have lost 0-3 vs pens, 0-1 vs mtl, 1-1 vs boston, 0-2 vs tor, 0-1 vs ott, 3-1 vs winn. 9 losses and less games played against these opponents. tough part of the schedule is yet to come.

        there is no comparison, in fact the pens have done worse in their division compared to the better teams in the league w/ losses to njd, nyi, and philly. caps on the other hand have maybe 3 “signature” wins, the comeback vs boston and the 2 shutouts of the jets who are showing they arent good.

      • blackfoot11 - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:10 PM

        We are talking about this abbreviated season and your comments about the short schedule and “beating up” on a weak division and conference. The past five years is irrelevant to the debate. Relatively speak the Atlantic and SE, with the exception of the Pens are terrible divisions this year. Look at the standings and the inconsistent play of the teams.

  17. obnoxiousDCfan - Apr 3, 2013 at 12:06 PM

    Dear Mike Milbury…..

  18. bruinz99 - Apr 3, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    Hey. Everybody’s opinion is welcome but can we keep comments to less than a novel?

    • blackfoot11 - Apr 3, 2013 at 3:34 PM

      Agreed, but some of the lengthy messages are apart of a good hockey debate.

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