Well if there was ever a true leader in the NHL, they would be atop of the Metropolitan division in the East. The Washington Capitals have won at least 10 more games than any other team in the division as well as having a 19 point lead in the standings. And have I mentioned they have already clinched the Eastern Conference? Well they have. The New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins follow Washington in the standings with 90 and 88 points respectively.
The Capitals are on their way to win the Presidents Trophy with a win on friday and a key Dallas loss in their next game. This would post the best record in the league with just 10 games remaining in the regular season. They are trying to keep motivated through the near meaningless games left in the season. The Caps were beat down by Pittsburgh 6-2 and looked just awful in the loss. They almost don’t know what to do with themselves. The sense of urgency has to been in the players heads come playoff time. They will be facing off against the lowest seed team but one thing is for sure it won’t be an easy game. Whoever that team may be, have been grinding through the standings to just edge themselves into the playoffs.
Also, the Capitals haven’t had this type of play for awhile. There hasn’t been games on the line for them in recent history. Basically they will need to keep their heads entirely in the game as they go forward and not get too comfortable with the way they may be playing now because playoff hockey has a whole different tempo and intensity.
New York has been up and down when it comes to wins and losses. They have only won 4 of their last 10 games and look forward to a few more important battles with Eastern Conference opponents. on Sunday they look to steal two points from the Penguins who are right behind them in the standings and in a couple weeks, they will play the Lightning who pose a great offensive threat as well as a brick wall in net.
Recent addition Eric Staal has had trouble finding his groove with the team posting one point and two assists in 11 games. Coach Vigneault took credit for trying to change the lines to enhance chemistry that is trying to be found by the forwards themselves. With much competition throughout the league the Rangers will need this chemistry and more to be able to compete with more top tier teams in the West for a chance at the Cup but I don’t see that happening this year.
Pittsburgh could take over second place in the Metropolitan with the way they have been playing. They have won 6 in a row and 8 of their last 10 games. They are heading in the right direction for this time of year and they have proven to be quite the competitor in not only the division but the league overall.
Kris Letang is making a run at the Norris trophy with a season career high in points and a high number of goals. Him and his defensive core have been playing really well. The offense was thought to come to ruin after Evgeni Malkin skated off with an upper body injury a couple weeks back and would be out 6-8 weeks, but they have not fallen apart.
They defeated the Washington Capitals 6-2 for a couple important points. They’re getting hot and getting hot fast and look for a great match up against whoever they end up playing first round and second round as they will advance through the contest.
As the Capitals try to keep pace with their play throughout the rest of the season, Pittsburgh could pose a large threat to the Eastern Conference title at steak. Pittsburgh is my personal favorite going forward because of the fire they have caught recently and with Evgeni Malkin added back into the lineup, they can be more dominant than they are now. Penguins v. Capitals would be an unreal matchup going forward and definitely on my list to watch.