Skip to content

Caps face challenge in new-look Metropolitan Division

Aug 28, 2013, 5:34 PM EST

Oates Capitals

Death, taxes and Washington dominating the Southeast Division.

While that wasn’t exactly a household mantra over the last six years, it did ring true. Washington captured five of the last six Southeast Division banners and, in doing so, was a perennial top-three seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs (the Caps finished third, second, first, first and third in years they won the division.)

Last season, Washington’s dominance of the Southeast was more valuable than ever. The strike-shortened season eliminated inter-conference play, meaning 18 of Washington’s 48 games came against the Lightning, Hurricanes, Panthers and Jets — none of whom made the playoffs.

In those 18 games, the Caps went 15-3-0. The only more successful team in-division was Chicago, who went 16-1-1 against the Central en route to winning the Stanley Cup.

“It’s been our saving grace this year,” goalie 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.”

Heading into 2013-14, that saving grace is gone.

The Caps now find themselves in the new Metropolitan Division, an eight-team circuit featuring just one other ex-Southeast member (Carolina) and a host of new rivals: Columbus, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

It’s a dramatically different landscape. The Penguins, Rangers and Isles were all playoff teams from a year ago; Columbus fell just short in its push for a postseason berth; the Devils knocked off the Flyers en route to the 2012 Stanley Cup Final.

So, safe to say the Caps won’t be dining out on divisional opponents anymore.

“It’s a tougher division, much tougher,” defenseman Karl Alzner told the Washington Post. “It’s going to be probably a pretty good battle, and the nice thing about our division now is we’ve had the luxury of not having to be the best all the time and still get into a good position in the playoffs.

“That’s the way it works.”

Latest Posts
  1. Flyers keep faint playoff hopes alive with win over Rangers

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:11 PM EST

    Steve Mason Getty Images

    Steve Mason was solid in his first start since undergoing knee surgery.

  2. Price shuts out Leafs to match Canadiens record

    Feb 28, 2015, 10:41 PM EST

    Carey Price AP

    He’s continuing to make his case for the art Trophy.

  3. Video: Hard-fought Flyers lead neutralized in just 24 seconds

    Feb 28, 2015, 9:24 PM EST

    New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers Getty Images

    Stakes are high for Philadelphia after Boston and Florida won.

  4. Jagr earns high praise in his Panthers debut

    Feb 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST

    Jaromir Jagr AP

    His leadership and the confidence that he brings might provide Florida with a big boost.

  5. Bruins maintain four-point edge in playoff race, hand Coyotes ninth straight loss

    Feb 28, 2015, 8:24 PM EST

    Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic AP

    Arizona is threatening to drop to 29th in the NHL, which would be big as far as the draft lottery is concerned.

  6. WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Flyers (8:00 p.m. ET)

    Feb 28, 2015, 7:51 PM EST

    Wayne Simmonds, Ryan McDonagh AP

    Philadelphia is trying to salvage its bid for a playoff spot.

  7. Sabres’ Chris Stewart is eager to play postseason hockey

    Feb 28, 2015, 7:37 PM EST

    Chris Stewart Getty Images

    A recent report suggests that Boston is interested.

  8. Red Wings beat NHL-leading Preds to end successful Western road trip

    Feb 28, 2015, 6:02 PM EST

    Alexei Marchenko, Justin Abdelkader AP

    Alexey Marchenko scored his first career goal.

  9. Five on waivers as trade deadline looms

    Feb 28, 2015, 5:34 PM EST

    Rob Zepp Getty Images

    That gives some teams extra roster flexibility.

  10. Agent: Blackhawks have ‘no intention’ of trading Sharp

    Feb 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EST

    Patrick Sharp Patrick Sharp

    He’s been the subject of trade rumors lately.

  11. Goalie Nods: Mason returns for the Flyers

    Feb 28, 2015, 3:35 PM EST

    Steve Mason AP

    News and notes from around the blue paint…

  12. Trade: Ducks acquire Fleischmann from the Panthers for Heatley and a pick

    Feb 28, 2015, 2:07 PM EST

    TomasFleischmann Getty Images

    The former Caps’ forward reunited with Bruce Boudreau.

  13. Trade: Capitals acquire Gleason from the Canes for Hillen and a pick

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:27 PM EST

    TimGleason Getty Images

    Both are unrestricted free agents after this season.

  14. Report: Rangers are shopping Zuccarello

    Feb 28, 2015, 12:00 PM EST

    Mats Zuccarello Getty Images

    He’s an unrestricted free agent after this season.

  15. Clarkson set to debut on Jackets’ top line

    Feb 28, 2015, 11:15 AM EST

    Toronto Maple Leafs v New York Islanders Getty Images

    Was acquired Thursday from Toronto.

Featured video

Trade deadline storylines to watch
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. B. Wheeler (2671)
  2. T. Hall (2432)
  3. K. Okposo (2395)
  4. M. Giordano (2238)
  5. D. Krejci (2179)