Skip to content

Caps face challenge in new-look Metropolitan Division

Aug 28, 2013, 5:34 PM EDT

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. Fleury returned to junior, won’t crack ‘Canes blueline this year

    Oct 2, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT

    Haydn Fleury Haydn Fleury

    Seventh overall pick at ’14 draft is headed to WHL Red Deer.

  2. Senators name Erik Karlsson as ninth captain

    Oct 2, 2014, 9:57 AM EDT

    Erik Karlsson AP

    They’re betting on him lasting longer than Spezza.

  3. Ryan agrees to seven-year, $50.75 million extension

    Oct 2, 2014, 9:29 AM EDT

    Bobby Ryan Getty Images

    They didn’t want another top forward to slip away.

  4. Robidas (leg) expects to play in opener

    Oct 2, 2014, 9:23 AM EDT

    Stephane Robidas Getty Images

    Toronto signed him to a three-year deal in July.

  5. Risk Factors: Columbus Blue Jackets edition

    Oct 2, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets - Game Six Getty Images

    A few tough breaks and the optimism is eroding a bit.

  6. Pittsburgh releases Daniel Carcillo from tryout

    Oct 2, 2014, 8:26 AM EDT

    Daniel Carcillo Getty Images

    That brings the Penguins’ roster down to 31 players.

  7. Pens are uncertain if Malkin can play opening night

    Oct 1, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Six Getty Images

    “The next few days will be the turning point,” GM Jim Rutherford said.

  8. Trotz wants to manage Ovechkin’s time on power play

    Oct 1, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT

    Alex Ovechkin AP

    It’s not as foolish as it sounds … maybe.

  9. It is an ‘important week’ regarding Alfredsson’s future with Detroit

    Oct 1, 2014, 8:02 PM EDT

    Henrik Zetterberg, Daniel Alfredsson AP

    According to fellow Swede and Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg.

  10. Coyotes’ King headed back to Russia

    Oct 1, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    DaveKing AP

    Where he’ll resume coaching duties for KHL Lokomotiv.

  11. B’s send four to AHL, including Spooner and Florek

    Oct 1, 2014, 4:01 PM EDT

    Boston Bruins v Winnipeg Jets Getty Images

    Didn’t take advantage of their opportunities.

  12. NHL refutes report, says no meeting planned with IOC on Olympic participation

    Oct 1, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT

    Sweden men's ice hockey player Nicklas Backstrom skates during a team practice at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics Reuters

    “We have not been in contact with the IOC and they have not been in touch with us.”

  13. Jackets lose Jenner (hand surgery) for five weeks

    Oct 1, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT

    Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 5, 2013 in Uniondale, New York. The Blue Jackets defeated the Islanders 3-2 in the shootout.
(October 4, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America) Getty Images

    Meaning all of Columbus’ No. 1 line — Jenner, Ryan Johansen and Nathan Horton — is now out of action.

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (2409)
  2. E. Malkin (2376)
  3. R. Johansen (2153)
  4. G. Nyquist (2040)
  5. J. Drouin (2003)
  1. F. Forsberg (1930)
  2. J. Harding (1897)
  3. C. Giroux (1812)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1795)
  5. F. Andersen (1647)