The Washington Capitals are only a few weeks away from the NHL Playoffs. They have clinched the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference. Through 72 games played, they have amassed 52 wins and 109 points. The final 10 games for the Capitals will see a various mix of opponents.
Listed below is a list of the Capitals final 10 games left this season:
March 25 – Caps @ Devils
March 26 – Blues @ Capitals
March 28 – Blue Jackets @ Capitals
March 30 – Capitals @ Flyers
April 1 – Capitals @ Avalanche
April 2 – Capitals @ Coyotes
April 5 – Islanders @ Capitals
April 7 – Penguins @ Capitals
April 9 – Capitals @ Blues
April 10 – Ducks @ Capitals
Let’s breakdown the opponents into the following categories: Playoff Teams, Playoff Bubble Teams, and Non-Playoff Teams:
Playoff Teams (3)
St. Louis Blues (x2), Anaheim Ducks, Pittsburgh Penguins
Playoff Bubble Teams (3)
NY Islanders, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche
Non-Playoff Teams (3)
New Jersey Devils, Columbus Blue Jackets, Arizona Coyotes
QUICK SCHEDULE NOTES
-The Capitals have not faced the St. Louis Blues yet this season, and the Blues will be the only team the Capitals face more than once in this final stretch.
-During this 10-game stretch, the Capitals will face 3 back-to-back game scenarios.
-The Capitals will see 4 different Western Conference teams, and 5 different Eastern Conference teams.
HOW WILL THE CAPITALS HANDLE THIS SCHEDULE?
With the Capitals already clinching the Metropolitan Division, they have a lot more flexibility for the upcoming games.
The Capitals should give goaltender Philipp Grubauer at least 3 starts during this 10-game stretch. He should see either the first or second game of each of the back-to-back game scenarios. At minimum, Grubauer should end up getting 3 starts, but probably should get 4-5.
The defensive core should be getting a big boost with the return of John Carlson to the lineup in a few days. Carlson has been on injured-reserve for the past month after undergoing an undisclosed lower-body procedure. Carlson has not played since February 24. The Capitals are hopeful that Carlson comes back healthier than he did earlier this season from his first injury stint.
SHOULD THE CAPITALS REST PLAYERS?
The NHL season a long grind, and there are teams that go into the NHL Playoffs every year that are not healthy. Most Capitals fans are probably wondering what the lingering injury is that has hindered Alex Ovechkin for the last several months.
So how should Barry Trotz rest his players? The first thing he should do is rest players that have any kind of lingering injury. It would not hurt the Capitals if Alex Ovechkin sat for a game or two. Trotz should also give his veterans a day or two of rest. It would not hurt the Capitals if players like Justin Williams, Jason Chimera, or Brooks Orpik were rested.
Trotz should only give guys rest for a game or two. He should not give players more than a week of rest. The Capitals can afford to play some of their depth players more. Players like Tom Wilson, Jay Beagle, and Dan Winnik can get a boost with icetime while some of the other forwards get some extra rest. Rest is needed for players with lingering injuries, or for some older veteran players. Barry Trotz has this option and should probably take advantage of the opportunity.
By George Foussekis
Pingback: Game Preview: Capitals @ Devils | NoVa Caps