Apr 11, 2013, 4:55 PM EST
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.
Mar 7, 2014, 1:23 AM EST
Worth staying up late for East Coast hockey fans.
Mar 7, 2014, 12:41 AM EST
He did it with style, too.
Mar 6, 2014, 11:32 PM EST
They might want to stay off of Twitter.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:50 PM EST
He should provide commentary to as many Vancouver games as possible.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:38 PM EST
Jhonas Enroth is making the most of his opportunity, to say the least.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:21 PM EST
This one looks painful.
Mar 6, 2014, 10:06 PM EST
Boston shut them out 3-0 on Thursday.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:56 PM EST
Plenty of talent on the ice for this late one.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:48 PM EST
It’s unclear how severe the injury is.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:34 PM EST
Ugly start for Vancouver vs. Dallas.
Mar 6, 2014, 8:30 PM EST
No one will wear No. 5 in Detroit again.
Mar 6, 2014, 7:56 PM EST
Injuries make him a key player instantly with Red Wings.
Mar 6, 2014, 7:46 PM EST
No denying whose team it is now, anyway.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:27 PM EST
He’s expected to line up with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk.
Mar 6, 2014, 5:28 PM EST
Mar 6, 2014, 5:07 PM EST
George McPhee “likes” this.
Mar 6, 2014, 4:51 PM EST
He’s eligible for the Hockey Hall of Fame this year too.
Mar 6, 2014, 4:31 PM EST
High hopes in St. Louis with Ryan Miller between the pipes.
Mar 6, 2014, 3:52 PM EST
All the latest from around the crease…
Mar 6, 2014, 3:51 PM EST
Signed through 2016-17 with a cap hit of $4.5 million.
- Canucks’ Bieksa: ‘If this isn’t rock bottom, I don’t know what is’ 12
- Luongo has Twitter fun at Canucks’ expense 19
- Sabres spoil Callahan’s Lightning debut, Stamkos’ return 1
- Dealing with the Devils: NHL reverses Kovalchuk punishment 47
- Playoff bubble watch — Rangers edition 14
- Video: Emotional day for Martin St. Louis ends in OT loss for Rangers 27
- Video: Caps, Flyers engage in another line brawl 53
- PHT’s 2014 Trade Deadline Tracker 28
- Winners and losers of the 2014 trade deadline 48
- Montreal wins Vanek sweepstakes (Updated) 46
- Canucks trade Luongo to Panthers (93)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Lightning trade St. Louis to Rangers for Callahan (82)
- Sabres send Miller, Ott to Blues for package including Halak, Stewart (74)
- Kings make splash, acquire Gaborik from Columbus (72)
- Report: Canucks want center, top prospect and first-rounder for Kesler (68)