Photo: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
The Washington Capitals are sitting comfortably in the standings at the halfway point of the 2019-20 regular season. Through 41 games, the Capitals have only 9 regulation losses. They have won 27 out of 41 games, and have a +24 goal differential.
While the Capitals have been a little under the weather and banged up over the last few weeks, they are about to be back at full strength. On Friday night, they will play in Carolina for the second time in a week. The Capitals suffered a 6-4 defeat against the Hurricanes last Saturday.
The Capitals will certainly look for revenge against Carolina tomorrow evening. It is gut check time for the Capitals against their Metropolitan Division rivals.
CAPITALS RECORDS VERSUS THE FOUR DIVISIONS
Versus Atlantic Division: 11-2
Versus Pacific Division: 8-0-3
Versus Central Division: 3-2-1
Versus Metropolitan Division: 5-5-1
The Capitals are showing promise to be in the playoff hunt by the time spring rolls around. However, their current record is a bit misleading.
While they have dominated against the Pacific and Atlantic Divisions, the Capitals have struggled versus Metropolitan Division opponents. The Capitals regulation losses against the Metropolitan Division include: 2 losses against Columbus, 1 loss against New York (Rangers), 1 loss against Carolina, and 1 loss against New York (Islanders). Three of the Capitals regulation losses against the Metropolitan Division are against teams that are not in the playoff picture.
HEAVY METROPOLITAN SLATE COMING
From now until the middle of January, the Capitals will see plenty of the Metropolitan Division. Through January 18, the Capitals will have eight games. Six of those games will be against teams from the Metropolitan Division.
In that time frame, the Capitals will face Carolina twice, New Jersey twice, and Philadelphia and New York (Islanders) once. These games are must wins for the Capitals. Carolina and New York are still in the hunt for the top spot in the Division, so the Capitals must find a way to take these games in regulation. If the Capitals can take these games in regulation, they will create additional separation in the standings.
While it is a bit early to discuss playoffs, the Capitals must remember how the current playoff format is constructed. The current playoff is set up to face Divisional opponents in the first two rounds.
The Capitals must find ways to elevate their game against their division foes. Every point up for grabs in these divisional matchups is critical for the Capitals to gain home-ice advantage in the playoffs.
The Capitals coaches and leadership group must take charge over the next couple of weeks. They must approach any divisional game like a playoff game. They must elevate their game in these matchups. The Capitals must be ready to play from start to finish as the games get tougher down the stretch.
By: George Foussekis