For the Caps, It's 'Bring on the Playoffs'

The Capitals area having a phenomenal regular season, just about any way you want to look at it: they have the top spot in the Eastern Conference locked up, they're more than thirty points ahead of anyone in their division, on the cusp of fifty wins, carrying a better than a goal-per-game goal differential, and scoring more than 19% more often than any other NHL team. To top it off, a number of guys have either hit career highs in production, or could in the remaining handful of games.  All that said, the team's recent play, especially against Carolina and Calgary, has been, um, lacking, to put it politely, which can cause a little anxiety even for the most level-headed fan.

With that in mind - and with reference to the same Empty Netters post that led to Red Birdie's Fan Post - we thought we'd take a look at how the Capitals have fared against potential playoff competition, both in the Eastern and Western Conference.  Naturally, it makes sense to turn our attention first to the East.  Here's what we get:

Team Record Points GF/G GA/G
Penguins 3-0-0 6 (1.000) 5.0 3.33
Sabres 3-1-0 6 (.750) 2.5 1.5
Devils 1-2-1 3 (.375) 2.5 2.75
Senators 1-1-1 3 (.500) 4.33 4.0
Flyers 3-0-1 7 (.875) 5.5 3.0
Canadiens 2-1-1 5 (.625) 3.5 3.25
Bruins 2-0-0 4 (1.000) 4.0 1.0
Thrashers 4-0-0 8 (1.000) 5.5 2.5
42  (.750)


This table can summarized in one very telling word: dominance.  The numbers are simply astonishing: the Caps  have won 19 of 28 games, taken three-quarters of the possible standings points, and outscored their opponents by well over a goal per game.  And while you have to be careful when you're looking at the numbers, it's not as if the Capitals are getting fat off weak opposition or gimmicky rules: the Capitals have a losing record against only one of their potential Eastern Conference foes, and only two of the team's 17 wins have come via the shootout.  Like we said: dominance.

As for how the Caps have fared against the West?

Team Record Points GF/G GA/G
Sharks 1-1-0 2 (.500) 3.0 3.0
Blackhawks 1-0-0 2 (1.000) 4.0 3.0
Canucks 0-1-0 0 (.000) 2.0 3.0
Coyotes 1-0-0 2 (1.000) 4.0 2.0
Predators 1-0-0 2 (1.000) 2.0 2.0
Red Wings 1-1-0 2 (.500) 3.0 3.0
Kings 0-1-0 0 (.000) 1.0 2.0
Avalanche 1-0-0 2 (1.000) 6.0 1.0
Flames 0-1-0 0 (.000) 3.0 5.0
West 6-5-0 12 (.545) 3.09 2.73


We've heard about how much better the Western Conference is than it's Eastern counterpart, and these numbers back that up.  Still, the numbers look pretty good for the Capitals; as a whole they're outscoring their opponents, and don't have a losing record against anyone they're played more than once.  Given the relatively small sample size and the oftentimes bizarre scheduling that comes with playing a team based on another coast, that's all about we can ascertain.  Nonetheless, there's not any reason to worry here if you're a Capitals fan; if anything, there's cause to be optimistic.

Simply put, the next couple of weeks are likely to be somewhat cumbersome for Caps fans, since there's very little left to achieve in the regular season and our team's playoff potential is limitless.  The important thing is to remember that it's not any easier for the players.  Like the rest of us they're human, like the rest of us they have a lot less interest meaningless regular season game, and like the rest of us they're ready to go out and prove how good they are in the postseason. 

Right now, there's not any reason to think they won't be able to do just that.

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