The Washington Capitals currently sit atop the Metropolitan Division standings with a 53-16-5 record (that's crazy). In 74 games, the Capitals have collected 111 points — which is good enough for not only best in the division, but best in the entire NHL.
In their most recent game, the Capitals were shut out by the red-hot St. Louis Blues (45-22-9) at Verizon Center, a rare off night for Washington and an even rarer night when they don't score at least one goal. But give credit to the Blues and Jake Allen (who made 32 saves); St. Louis hasn’t allowed a goal in 240:18, the longest run in its history.
Okay, back to Washington.
In addition to clinching the Eastern Conference, the Capitals can secure home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs when the Blue Jackets visit on Monday night.
After falling to the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Mar. 26, the Jackets will be looking to bounce back in Washington. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 43 saves and was the Jackets best player on Saturday night, and without him, the 5-1 margin could've been even more lopsided. It is possible, though, that Sergei Bobrovsky could start in net in Washington.
It was on Jan. 19 at Nationwide Arena that the Blue Jackets and Capitals last faced off. In that game, Sergei Bobrovsky made his return from a groin injury and the Jackets scored the opening goal and took a 10-1 lead in shots halfway through the first period.
But the Capitals tied things up in the first period and never trailed again, taking a 6-3 decision in Columbus to avenge a 5-4 shootout loss at Nationwide Arena on Jan. 2.
With a team-leading 73 points, Evgeny Kuznetsov is the player to watch in this match-up. The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native has recorded 53 points in 74 games played this season, which is good enough for fourth best in the NHL.
The 23-year-old was selected by Washington in the first round (No. 26 overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft. After a few seasons of success in the KHL, Kuznetsov made the move to the U.S. for the 2013-14 season and played 17 games with the Capitals. Since then, he has been a constant on the Capitals roster and this season has been his coming out party.
In 2014-15, he scored 11 goals and added 26 assists for 37 points, and added five goals and two assists in 14 playoff games. After posting the best numbers of his career this season, it’s safe to say the Russian will be an impact player in the Capitals' playoff run this spring.