Tonight’s game against the Panthers is game #42 of the 2010-2011 NHL regular season. Time to start the 2nd half of this rollercoaster ride. But, is it time to start worrying about the Caps position at the end of it? I’m gonna put in my $0.02 here and say no.
But, what I will say is this; for anyone who thinks the Caps need to go into the playoffs as #1 seed again, please put those wishes on hold for a minute. In the last 10 years, only 4 teams who started the playoffs as #1 seed have gone all the way to the end and raised the cup for their fans. The 2nd seed team has won 4 times and the 4th seed team has won twice. And, the only team to go in as #1 and win the Stanley Cup round in less than 7 games was the Detroit Red Wings, twice (2002 & 2008). I’m not a statistician. As a matter of fact; math hurts my brain so I made a simple little chart to illustrate this:
Now, considering the “jinx” of the President’s Trophy, as well as the fact that 1st seed teams have the biggest target on their backs, do you really want the Caps to be #1 this season? Ok, I know pride makes us all want to say yes, but lets be logical. As of this morning, the Washington Capitals are #5 in the East conference. With 41 games left to go before tonight, there has to be a lot of winning on our part and a lot of losing by Pittsburgh, Tampa, Boston, and Philly; not to mention all the other East conference teams currently behind us. Not that we can’t have a big winning streak. Let’s not forget the 2007-2008 season, when Coach Boudreau joined our team and we won 11 of 12 games in March and April to get into the 1st round of the playoffs. I know, that technically isn’t a winning streak, but it is a time for the Caps that I am most proud of our guys. Talk about the underdog coming out ahead, it was awesome. The Capitals were the first team in NHL history to make the playoffs after being ranked 14th or lower in their conference standings at the season's midpoint. So, yes, it can be done, but do you really want to go through that nail-biting agony again? I sure don’t, that’s when I got the majority of the grey hairs I sport to this day. (No, blonde dye does not cover grey hair, in case you were wondering).
So, the likelihood of going in as #1 seems kinda faint, sorry to say. I’ve always felt the 2nd, 3rd and 4th seeded teams have faired better when it comes to the Stanly Cup playoffs. Lowered expectations of them winning from other teams kinda lets them be a little sneaky. After all, the onus to win is on the #1 seed. And let’s not forget, being #1 seed does not actually mean you are the very best hockey team in the world. In reality, it means you have the most points at the end of the season. At the turn of a dime, any one thing could have changed that standing, so unless you started the season at #1 and stayed there the whole 82 games, I’m gonna say being #1 seed does not make you the best in the world. Just the toughest and luckiest.
All in all, I have to say, its ok Caps fans. The team will always be #1 in our hearts. If they aren’t #1 at the end of the regular season, all is still good. As long as we get to the playoffs, we will still have the chance to see our boys raise that cup over their heads and finally put the naysayers to rest. And wouldn’t it be great to see Ovi lift it time after time on replays and in commercials? Yeah, I think so too.