It’s time to get excited again.
In just under two months, the Stanley Cup Playoffs will once again grace the sporting world with its presence. The Cup Playoffs are simultaneously dreadful, astonishing, exhilarating and can turn even the most sane people into a raging nutcase. And yet, we love it all the same.
The Washington Capitals, winners of everything but the Stanley Cup, are once again in the driver’s seat to win the President’s Trophy. But there’s really not an argument to the contrary anymore.
This is the best team of the Alex Ovechkin era. There won’t be a better chance for the Capitals to win the Cup. For a franchise as snakebitten as this one, that’s enough scare you into a pillow fort. But it’s time to believe.
Bye Bye Bye
The Capitals are officially on their NHL-mandated bye week. The team’s last game was Saturday, and they won’t hit the ice again until next Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.
Some of the player’s have already taken advantage of this rare week off, doing whatever they need to in order to get ready for the upcoming stretch run. Maybe a run that will last until June.
The Capitals just finished a stretch of 21 games in 42 days, so a long rest is in order for a team who just lost its second line winger, Andre Burakovsky.
Coach Barry Troz has said time and time again this season that he wants to manage the team’s ice time to keep fresher legs ready for April and May, and this bye week should help that.
The age old question surrounding the Washington Capitals:
Is this the year?
Seemingly every year, there’s a new reason to believe that this is, in fact, the Capitals turn. A new goalie, improved defense, more scoring depth have been cited for years as the team’s problems.
Well this year, the Capitals have all of those things. In fact, they’re fielding a team with no discernible weaknesses. Frankly, that scares the hell out of Caps fans.
Washington Post columnist Barry Svrluga wrote a terrific column about how this is the year. Finally.
The Capitals have one of the best goalies in the league, the best team defense in the league by far and enough scoring depth with the likes of Pittsburgh and anyone else that might face the Caps.
It’s a game of razor thin margins, so all it takes is one hot goalie to put the Capitals on the couch for May. But there isn’t a team in the league that matches up to Washington. Well, on paper.
Bunches of fun
The Capitals scoring over the last month has been, well, stupid. There really isn’t another word for how much the Caps have been scoring.
Five Capitals have over 15 goals this year, and there’s a legitimate chance that seven players end up with over 20 goals. 10 players have already scored double digit goals this season.
Verizon Center has been treated to TONS of goals courtesy of the @Capitals.
Last 10 home games: 6-5-5-5-6-5-6-5-5-6. pic.twitter.com/8vzgx2NfrG
— NHL (@NHL) February 10, 2017
Since the new year, the Capitals have scored 4.52 goals per game. That would be good for first by one whole goal per game. The Capitals now have three legitimate, talented scoring lines and it’s showing.
Off the Ice
The Capitals have also drawn some attention from their off the ice events.
Braden Holtby will wear a “You Can Play” themed mask on Feb. 24. You Can Play is an organization dedicated to equality in sports, regardless of gender of sexual orientation.
The Capitals also hosted Fatima Al Ali, a woman from the United Arab Emirates and a Capitals fanatic. She got to meet Alex Ovechkin and team and broke down in tears at the sight of everyone in the locker room.
She dropped the ceremonial puck at the Red Wings/Capitals game that night too.
The Capitals are actually destroying their opponents right now. And really, it’s not close.
The Caps have lost just three times since Jan. 1 and just five of their wins since then have been by one goal. Meaning, in the 21 games since the new year, the Capitals have won 13 times by at least two goals.
The team is slowly creeping away with the President’s Trophy race, which would be the team’s third in eight years.
The run is not likely to continue, especially as the playoffs draw closer, but for now, there might not be a better, more dominant team in sports.
It’s OK to worry about playoff failures and past defeats, but for now, enjoy the ride. There hasn’t been one like it in Capitals history, and there might not ever be another stretch like this one.
Five minutes for fighting is a newsletter where NHL and Washington Capitals fans can gather to get storylines on the team. Come for the hockey commentary, stay for bad hockey puns. Not affiliated with the Washington Capitals or the National Hockey League. Not even a little bit.