I know it’s only been two games in the first series against a Ranger team that historically is the Capitals Achilles heel in the post-season, but I propose to you that the Washington Capitals success this season has been there all along. In fact, it’s coming at exactly the time when it usually would.
Looking back on seasons past, we can see a trend start to form when it comes to the Washington Capitals throughout the regular season. They start off hot, stay strong throughout and past the halfway point, and then slow down a bit when it comes time for the playoffs. The same can be said for this season with the exception being the slow down period doesn’t exist.
Take a look at last season. The Caps easily started off the best team in the NHL after starting the season by winning their first seven games and nine of their first twelve. The Capitals then stayed hot through the first half of the season and then into the final stretch. They eventually made it to the second round of the playoffs where they fell to the New York Rangers.
Historically, we can look back and see based on results that the Capitals were still winning games. However, on the ice they were having to fight, battle, and scratch their way to each victory and the wins were getting harder and harder to come by. It was as if the team was simply running out of gas.
This season has been much different. The Capitals got off to a rough start and that likely could have been the growing pains that teams go through when transitioning to a new coach. But the team then figured everything out and went on a tear that included star winger Alex Ovechkin leading the NHL in goals scored, something that had often eluded in seasons past.
Usually, we start to see the play teeter off the later we get into the season. With this being a shortened season, the Capitals may not even get a chance to let their play teeter off and slow down to the point where the offense seems stagnant the defense is not as tight.
Often we hear of “experts” saying that teams are beginning to peak at just the right time in the season. For the Capitals, that cliche could not be more correct. Braden Holtby has been stout in the goal in the first two games of the series and the offense has been just as good.
For the Washington Capitals, the shortened season may just be the thing they need to get to the Stanley Cup Finals and possibly win the NHL championship. While the playoffs are young and so is this series, the Capitals certainly have a lot of things going for them and fate just might be one of them.
What do you think of the Capitals late season success and their chances on making it to the Stanley Cup Finals?