Caps/NHL Playoff Stretch Thread

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Lanky Livingston

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Caps find themselves in a spot they haven't been in since 2008 - out of first place in the Southeast division. 2008 of course was when Glen Hanlon was fired & Bruce Boudreau took over, and led the Caps to an improbable Southeast Division title and playoff appearance.

Caps have switched to a more balanced, defensive style of hockey this season, which has drawn a lot of criticism. Last season, the Caps didn't really bother with defense, simply outscoring everyone on their way to the President's Trophy & a matchup with the playoff-worst Montreal Canadiens. Boudreau decided to switch up the style after a disappointing first-round exit.

Friday night & Sunday night, the Caps responded to their critics by stomping the Southeast division-leading Tampa Bay Lightning & Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2 and 3-0 respectively. Caps are now 3 points behind Tampa for the Southeast division lead, and firmly entrenched in the 5th seed of the playoffs with a 3 point lead over Montreal. The stretch-run is shaping up to be fantastic; Caps finally seem to be embracing the new playing style, and look better than ever.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Tonight the Caps host the Sharks, in the first of 5-straight Western Conference opponents. If the Caps really have turned the corner, they should get at least 8 points out of this stretch of games. They face the current 5th, 6th, 7th & 9th seeds in the West (Phoenix, San Jose x 2, Anaheim & LA).

This is all of course a nice tune-up for the rematch with Pittsburgh on February 21st.
 

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Not a good start to the West Coast stretch, with losses to the Sharks & Kings. Need to pick up some points tonight against Phoenix, Wednesday against Anaheim & Thursday against the Sharks.
 

Lanky Livingston

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So the Caps west-coast stretch did not go as planned, and they came away with only 2 points. The 2 came from a thrilling 7-6 win over the Anaheim Ducks, in an offensive explosion that featured sloppy defense, a really fast pace, and a vintage Alex Ovechkin goal - in other words, it was the Caps from last season.

Caps followed up the poor WC series with a win in Buffalo against an almost unbeatable Ryan Miller. Miller stopped 37 of 39 shots - fortunately Varlamov stopped one 28 of 29.
 

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Caps shut out the Penguins last night 1-0. The deciding marker came from a ridiculous Ovechkin blast on the power play. After calling Neuvirth "shaky" on the series 24/7 during the Winter Classic, Neuvy has shut out the Pens twice in a row. I like that from the young goalie!
 

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Caps shut out the Penguins last night 1-0. The deciding marker came from a ridiculous Ovechkin blast on the power play. After calling Neuvirth "shaky" on the series 24/7 during the Winter Classic, Neuvy has shut out the Pens twice in a row. I like that from the young goalie!

I watched the 3rd period. First time I have been excited about hockey in a long time. It was good to see both Neuvy and Ovie step up. Semin, where are you?
 

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Trade deadline is today - many Caps fans waiting with bated breath to see who may be on the move out of DC. 2nd-line center is a huge need, and the only one I see GMGM addressing with a trade.

The Caps recently picked up Marco Sturm, veteran LW off waivers from the Kings. I think they're hoping he'll have a Ray Bourque or Sergei Federov type effect on the youngsters on the team. Another name connected with the Caps recently is Jason Arnott of the Devils. Could take over 2C, and also add more vet leadership.
 

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Caps trade prospect Jake Hauswirth & a 3rd rounder to FL for defenseman Dennis Wideman. Leads the league in PP goals by a DMan this season, something the Caps have been sorely missing. Stay tuned, Caps not done.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Caps trade David Steckel & a 2012 2nd-round pick for Jason Arnott from the Devils.

Overall, Caps have added:
Dennis Wideman D
Jason Arnott C

Let go of:
David Steckel C
Jake Hauswirth G (very raw prospect)
2nd rounder 2012
3rd rounder 2011

Helluva day for GMGM.
 

Lanky Livingston

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Ovechkin with a spectacular game-winning goal last night in overtime to beat the Islanders, 2-1. It was the number 1 play on Sportscenter's top 10 plays this morning, and was another "vintage" Ovechkin play. He is turning on the burners for the playoff stretch...hold onto your hats, ladies and gentlemen!
 

Lanky Livingston

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In case you haven't noticed (and by the attendance in this thread, you haven't) - the Caps have jumped Tampa in the standings, taking back the Southeast Division lead, and moving from 5th place to 3rd place in the overall standings, on the back of a 5-game win streak. With home games against Edmonton and Carolina the next few days, the streak *should* continue, until Sunday at home against Chicago at least.
 

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It was nice to see Holtby step up last night after Neuvy went out. I heard that some metal from Neuvy's mask went into his eye. I think BB said he was going to be o.k.

The Caps are just a couple of points away from being the #1 seed, not that it matters with this team. I think our style of hockey has gotten us closer to being a Cup contender, but only time will tell. Hopefully they can still pull out the close ones in the playoffs.
 

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Seems like they've finally got the hang of the new system. If Semin can just be motivated in the playoffs, and Ovie plays like he has been of late, I'm not sure anyone can stop this team. Just gotta hope Backstrom is okay.
 

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