Troubles vs. Pacific Division

After the Capitals wins over the Lightning and Penguins, it made me (along with a lot of other fans) believe that Washington was finally starting to turn things around this season seeing how those were two pretty big wins. Since then, they dropped their last two games. They were shut out by the San Jose Sharks 2-0 on Tuesday and lost to the Los Angeles Kings earlier today after a disaster of a 3rd period. Does this mean those two “big wins” were just flashes in the pan and the team is still woefully inconsistent? Possibly. One thing many bloggers mentioned after those two wins were that the Caps had a batch of games against Pacific Division teams coming up and Washington has had a history of struggling in those games.

They viewed the Tampa Bay game as a “must win” because they were chasing them in the standings and obviously, they don’t need any motivation to get ready for a Caps-Pens game. However, when they’re facing teams they don’t see a lot like the Kings, Coytoes and Sharks, it’s kind of difficult to prepare and get motivated for them. A reasoning behind it could be that teams don’t see out of conference games having much magnitude but when you’re basically battling for position and a division title, getting any points are crucial no matter who you face. Especially at this time of year when teams start to pull away in the standings.

Let’s take the Sharks for instance, a month ago they were in a rough losing streak and have since turned it around and are 8-1-1 in their past 10. They are chasing the Stars in a very tight race in the Pacific Division and know that they have to win whenever they can to re-claim their spot at the top of the division. Same can be said for pretty much every team in the division right now. The Ducks have won three straight, so have the Coyotes and the Kings are 6-2-2 in their last 10. These teams seem to know that every game counts and they are doing their best to win despite injury problems.

Maybe it’s time the Caps showed this kind of urgency against out-of-conference teams? They are 3-7-1 against the Western Conference this season with the only victories coming against St. Louis, Nashville and Calgary earlier in the season. The Lightning are 6-5-1 against the West, obviously not as impressive but they are getting the points there. The Canes are 9-4-1, which is one reason they’re still in the playoff hunt. The Flyers, at the top of the division are 7-4-1 vs. West and on the flipside, the top team in the West, the Vancouver Canucks, are 10-3-2 vs. the East. A lot of people say these games don’t matter but as I said earlier, when you’re in a division race and are battling for playoff positioning, winning games like this help.

Here’s how the Caps have done vs. the Pacific the past few seasons.

This Year 0-3-1

Sharks L, 2-0
Coyotes
Stars L 2-1
Ducks OTL 2-1
Kings L 4-1

Last Year 3-1-1

Sharks W 4-1, L 5-2
Coyotes W 4-2
Stars OTL, 4-3
Ducks W 5-1
Kings L 2-1

2008  2-4-0
Sharks L 7-2
Coyotes L 2-1
Stars W 6-5
Ducks W 6-4
Kings L 5-2, L 5-4

Overall record of 5-8-2, not that good and last year’s numbers definitely inflate the record a bit. We have a game against the Coyotes on Monday, followed by a game at Anaheim two days later and a re-match against the Sharks the day after. Still time to improve that record but let’s hope the team has some more urgency this time. If not, then I’ll just assume that this conference has our number. I will say that the Kings always seem to beat us no matter what so I guess I should have saw today’s result coming.

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