The Washington Capitals won three of their four games played in the week leading up to the Olympic break. While it was short-lived, the team’s success was a crucial step toward qualifying for an elusive playoff spot. The Metropolitan Division has grown tighter than ever, and so has the Eastern Conference’s final Wild Card spot.
With 23 games remaining in the season, time is running out for the Caps to get in the groove that helped them secure a playoff spot last season. Granted, competition in the Southeast Division was far from fierce–but the Caps were able to finish strong. This time around, the final stretch will be more challenging, as the Caps have one of the most difficult schedules in the NHL.
The Olympic break is a great opportunity for the majority of the team to relax and recharge, while five Capitals will be competing in Sochi. For better or worse, their respective performances in the tournament could affect their individual play for the remainder of the season. When the Games draw to a close, it’s imperative that the focus return to earning a playoff spot.
While it’ll be far more difficult for the Caps to make the playoffs this time around, the intensity of the schedule might ultimately help them in the long run. Playing tougher teams will force the Caps to up their game or face the consequences of failing to advance to the postseason. Whether or not they’ll pull off another miracle late in the season remains to be seen, but the road to mid-April will surely be worth following.
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