Apr 11, 2013, 4:55 PM EDT
The Washington Capitals have made a stirring comeback from their dreadful start to move into third in the Eastern Conference.
And they know exactly how they got there.
The Caps have dined out on the Southeast Division opponents this year, going 12-3-0. The only teams to achieve similar in-division success are Pittsburgh (12-5-0 vs. the Atlantic) and Chicago (13-0-1 vs. the Central).
“It’s been our saving grace this year,” Braden Holtby told the Washington Post. “It’s been lucky that we’ve got to play those teams so much, but at the same time, we’ve done a good job with them and we haven’t taken a lot of those games lightly because we know how important they are.”
Washington is 2-1 against Tampa Bay this year, 3-1 against Carolina and Winnipeg and a perfect 4-0 against Florida, outscoring the Panthers by a whopping 22-9 margin.
(Queue the “more like South-LEAST division” jokes.)
To their credit, the Caps aren’t denying the fact they’re benefiting from playing in a weak division.
They’re sticking to the usual utterances teams in these situations offer: We didn’t make the schedule. You can only beat the teams you face. We’re not focused on who we beat, but rather how we play.
Just ask forward Matt Hendricks.
“Our division hasn’t been that solid this year. We can’t argue that,” Hendricks said. “But for the most part we tried not to be too focused on the outside, more looking at our games, our video clips, focusing on the ways we could get better and start climbing the ladder.”
The Caps have eight games remaining in the season, including tonight’s contest against — you guessed it — another in-division rival, the Carolina Hurricanes.
After that, Washington has two more Southeast matchups left (Saturday vs. Tampa Bay; Tuesday Apr. 23 vs. Winnipeg) and will play both at the friendly confines of the Verizon Center.
Apr 20, 2014, 12:35 AM EDT
Colorado overcomes some strange officiating late in Game 2.
Apr 19, 2014, 11:56 PM EDT
Colorado’s rookie sensation is inspiring some bold words.
Apr 19, 2014, 11:19 PM EDT
Colorado might want to keep Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon together.
Apr 19, 2014, 10:54 PM EDT
Special teams factored in.
Apr 19, 2014, 10:37 PM EDT
Apr 19, 2014, 10:33 PM EDT
The defenseman last played in the first period.
Apr 19, 2014, 10:18 PM EDT
He’s clearly not wilting in the postseason spotlight.
Apr 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT
Columbus has been in the NHL since the 2000-01 season.
Apr 19, 2014, 8:52 PM EDT
More magic from Paul Stastny?
Apr 19, 2014, 8:36 PM EDT
Quite a busy 2:26 of ice time.
Apr 19, 2014, 7:57 PM EDT
“I have to be better.”
Apr 19, 2014, 7:22 PM EDT
The Blues coach mostly pleads the fifth.
Apr 19, 2014, 6:52 PM EDT
His play may wind up costing him a suspension.
Apr 19, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT
Pittsburgh carries a 1-0 series lead into Saturday.
Apr 19, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT
Things changed fast late in the third period.
Apr 19, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT
His penalty got things going in the wrong direction for Chicago.
Apr 19, 2014, 5:34 PM EDT
Memo to players: wear a cup.
Apr 19, 2014, 5:08 PM EDT
His goal is the difference in the game through two.
Apr 19, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT
He’s been out since March 29 with a knee injury.
Apr 19, 2014, 3:09 PM EDT
He’s missed three games with an upper-body injury.
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