Photo: Geoff Burke/USA Today
The 2018-19 NHL regular season has approached the halfway point. Through 41 games, the Capitals have recorded a 25-12-4 record, good for 54 points. Like a season ago, the Metropolitan Division is shaping up to be very competitive, especially at the top of the standings.
THE TOP FOUR
The top four clubs in the Metropolitan standings have distanced themselves from the rest of the pack. Washington, Pittsburgh, Columbus, and New York (Islanders) are all competing at the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.
As of January 8, the New York Islanders are currently sitting in the first wild card spot. The Islanders have won 6 in a row, and have won 9 out of their last 10 games.
Just ahead of the Islanders are the Penguins and Blue Jackets. The Penguins are two points ahead of the Islanders, and the Blue Jackets are one point ahead of the Islanders.
The Capitals currently sit at the top of the Metropolitan Division, as they are two points ahead of Pittsburgh, and have a game in hand on the Penguins. The Capitals are three points ahead of the Blue Jackets, and four points ahead of the Islanders.
STARS MUST AWAKEN
It was a slow month of December for the Capitals top players. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom have not scored a goal since December 2 against Anaheim, which is over a span of 15 games. Alex Ovechkin has recorded just one goal in his last nine games. T.J. Oshie has recorded just one goal in his last 11 games.
The Capitals need more production from their top players if they want to sustain their lead inside the Metropolitan Division.
PITTSBURGH AND COLUMBUS ARE KEEPING PACE
The Penguins and Blue Jackets are keeping pace with the Capitals in the wins column. The Penguins have won 8 out of their last 10 games, and the Blue Jackets have won 7 out of their last 10 games.
KEY EASTERN CONFERENCE MATCHUPS IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF WEEKS
The Capitals will face some of their tougher competition in the upcoming weeks. The Capitals will face Boston on Thursday night, and Columbus on Saturday night. Both clubs are currently in the postseason race. The Capitals will also receive a visit from the New York Islanders late next week. That game will be a special occasion because it will be Barry Trotz’s first trip back to Washington D.C. in the regular season. Trotz and his Islanders will be up to the challenge in that game next Friday night.
THE CUP DEFENSE BEGINS NOW
As the winter bombards the regular season now, the games are going to get tighter and more competitive. The Metropolitan Division race is likely going to come down to the wire like in previous seasons. The Capitals must find ways to continue to win, especially the close Divisional games. The stars need to wake up, and everyone needs to continue to believe that another Stanley Cup run could be in the cards.
By: George Foussekis