Written by Netty, March 11, 20102010 Southeast Division Champions
Today, with a 2-1 Thrashers loss (to Columbus), the Washington Capitals officially clinched the Southeast Division, with over a month of the regular season still to go. This year, the Southeast race hasn't really been close, as the Capitals, since about November, when they pulled away from Atlanta in the standings, and since then have just added to their lead (see Southeast Division standings below).
|Team||Points (as of 3/11/10)||Record|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||65||27-27-11|
Overall, the Southeast Division is horrible. It is, by far, the worst division in the entire NHL. However, the Capitals are the best team overall in the NHL, therefore explaining the extremely early clinch. This will be the Capitals' third straight year as Southeast-Division champions.
The Capitals have also dominated in divisional play this year, going a stellar 15-2-0. The only two losses were ugly, fluke-y losses; they lost 6-3 to Carolina in December and lost 7-4 to Tampa Bay in January. Other than that, the Capitals have been by far the best team in their division.
The Capitals have now secured their spot in the NHL Playoffs, the games from here out will only decide which seed they receive and whether or not they get the President's Trophy, guarantying home-ice advantage for the whole of the playoffs.
The remaining games left in this season should be used now for two things. First, the Caps need to work on things that aren't in perfect condition yet, such as Semyon Varlamov's game, defense, and most of all penalty-killing. Second, the Caps should solidify their lead on the President's trophy, and make sure that the team really is clicking so that they can roll into the playoffs on a high note, ending the regular season with a bang.
Only the First Step
However, if the best the Capitals do this year is win their division, it will be a disappointment. They have, as I said, won their division three years in a row; it is time to move onto bigger and better things. The "bigger and better" thing in the Capitals' sights at the moment is the Stanley Cup, the trophy given to the overall champion in the NHL playoffs. The playoffs cumulate in the Stanley Cup finals, where the Eastern Conference champion and the Western Conference champion play in a best-of-7 series. The Capitals, in their 35 year history, have only been to the Stanley Cup finals once, and have never won, being swept 4-0 by Detroit in 1998. Both the Capitals players and fans would dearly love for the team to win their first ever Stanley Cup this year; it would show that at least one Washington DC team is good at the moment, and would help hockey in Washington DC immensely.
Now that the playoffs are a guarantee for the Caps, they should use the rest of the regular season wisely and productively and gear up for a long playoff run, hopefully cumilating with winning the 2010 Stanley Cup.
GO WASHINGTON CAPITALS!