Capitals Stuck in Log-Jammed Metropolitan Division


The Washington Capitals have struggled over their last 10 games, going just 4-4-2, including a four-game losing streak in which they allowed at least four goals in each game.

But the Caps responded nicely with a 4-0 thumping of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but then lost back-to-back one-goal games to the Montreal Canadiens and the St. Louis Blues.

More from All Over The Hill

And after another 4-0 win, the latest coming last night against the Los Angeles Kings, Washington (26-15-10) finds itself tied with the New York Rangers for third in the Metropolitan Division at 62 points. However, the Rangers own a tie-breaker over the Capitals, pushing Washington into fourth place and into seventh place in the East based on the current standings from the Atlantic Division.

Both the Capitals and the Rangers are just two points behind second-place Pittsburgh and three points behind the first place New York Islanders.

The next 10 games for Washington is a mixed bag of sorts. Six of those games are on the road, including a four-game road trip from February 11 to 17 that spans San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Pittsburgh.

While the Capitals will see tough competition often during the next 10 games (San Jose, Anaheim x2, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg and the New York Islanders) they face some lesser competition with the Flyers twice and the Ottawa Senators tomorrow.

Feb 1, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the St. Louis Blues in the second period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Luckily for Washington, its star player Alex Ovechkin has been blazing through opponents since the new year began. He was named the NHL’s First Star for the month of January as he recorded 12 goals in 13 games and recorded at least one point in nine of those games.

In Washington’s last two games, Ovechkin has recorded four points (two goals and one assist against St. Louis and an assist last night). He’s one of five players who has scored at least 30 goals in each of their first 10 seasons – a list that includes Wayne Gretzky – and passed Peter Bondra on the Capitals All-Time list for first in game-winning goals.

And as the Capitals look to pull away from the logjam at the top of the Metropolitan Division, head coach Barry Trotz has continued to try new combinations on the ice, including last night when he put Marcus Johansson on the top line with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Johansson recorded an assist in last night’s win and has recorded a point in five of the last eight games for Washington.

Despite Washington’s recent struggles over its last 10 games, the Caps find themselves right in the thick of things in the Metropolitan Division as they look to make another playoff run.