With 48 games in 99 days, there’s not a lot of time to digest what happened in any single contest. So as we churn through this compressed Capitals season, I’ll be rounding up my thoughts, analysis and various notes on games here. If you missed them, check out the game story from the 2-1 shootout win over the Islanders with more on Brooks Laich leaving the game with an injury and Braden Holtby’s 35-save performance.
It took 37 games over 2 ½ months, but for the first time this season the Washington Capitals are in a playoff position and sitting atop the Southeast Division.
Granted, all of that can change in an instant, but after starting the year a dreadful 2-8-1 the Capitals are finally seeing their improved play translate into movement up the standings.
“It’s a great feeling. We’ve been fighting a lot to get up there. I think we’ve been playing a lot better lately; we’ve been playing really good games,” Marcus Johansson said. “The last eight, nine, 10 games I think we’re playing great hockey. It’s good that we’re getting some results.”
Over the past eight games the Capitals are 6-1-1. That run began on March 21 in the first of back-to-back games at the Winnipeg Jets, and when Washington headed into that contest it sat second to last in the Eastern Conference with 25 points – nine out of first in the Southeast and seven behind eighth place in the conference.
“I think our team game has come a long way. I really think that we’re starting to grasp the system and the advantages we can get from it. I think we’re starting to frustrate teams,” said Brooks Laich, who left the game with an undisclosed injury. “They’re not getting the chances and the goals that they were getting before. I really think we’re supporting each other well. We’re starting to suffocate teams a little bit more and getting healthy. Getting Mike [Green] back was big. And now we have the addition of Marty. I said before: I really think that the best hockey lays ahead for this team, and we’re just starting to peak.”