Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Playoffs are Coming! (Editorial)

Written by Netty, March 9th, 2010

Alexander Ovechkin high-fives his teammates on the bench. (ESPN)

Playoffs? Already?

It's hard to believe, but the playoffs are almost upon us.


It's been almost half a year since NHL regular season play started. There have been many big stories. The Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs had horrible starts to their seasons. The Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche are doing pretty well this year, as both are in the top-8 teams, points wise, despite both being predicted to be bottom-dwellers again. The Boston Bruins are desperately holding on to a playoff spot; last year they were #1 in the East.

Players have had big stories as well. Sidney Crosby apparently is pretty good at scoring goals, while his teammate, Evgeni Malkin, hasn't had nearly as good of a season as last year. Goalies have caught fire, such as Ryan Miller in Buffalo or Craig Anderson in Colorado. Both have been key to their teams' success.

A Year to Remember

1Washington Capitals9744-13-9
2San Jose Sharks9342-14-9
3Chicago Blackhawks9143-17-5
4Pittsburgh Penguins8440-22-4
5Phoenix Coyotes8339-22-5
6Vancouver Canucks8240-23-2
7Los Angeles Kings8239-22-4
8Colorado Avalanche8037-22-6
The Caps have had their own stories this year. This had been, pretty much, the hands-down best season the Washington Capitals franchise has ever had in its 35-year history. Whether it's been the franchise-record 14 game win streak or the franchise-record 13 game home win streak, it's been a great year to be a Caps fan. The team is leading the NHL is goals for per game, total points, and power play %. The fact that the Caps are #1 in the NHL is especially notable; this is the latest in the season the Capitals have ever been number 1. Looking at the top-8 teams in the standings, the Capitals are in a good position to win a franchise-first President's Trophy, awarded to the team with the most points at the end of the season. A President's Trophy would guarantee the Caps home-ice advantage for the entire playoffs, which would definitely be nice.

However, home ice advantage isn't everything in the playoffs, and the President's Trophy winner is not at all guaranteed to do well. Witness the San Jose Sharks, masters of choking when it matters most. The President's Trophy winners last year, the Sharks fell to the 8th-seeded Anaheim Ducks in 6 games in the first round of the playoffs.

What the Caps should do now is work on their problem areas, as the playoffs are all but guaranteed for this team. Problem areas include consistent defense, goaltending, and especially the penalty kill. While the defense and goaltending, of late, have shown much improvement, penalty killing will be a huge problem in the playoffs if it is not fixed swiftly and effectively.

Thank You For Reading