So, how about those Washington Capitals?
After that dreadful 1-6 start to the condensed regular season, the Capitals are now closing in on the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets, thanks to a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.
The Capitals had just 19 shots on the Hurricanes’ goal, but scored five times, including three times in the second period to take over the lead and control.
Leading the Capitals against the Hurricanes and Washington’s late-season surge: Alex Ovechkin.
Since March 17, Ovechkin has 10 goals over a nine-game span and has 15 points. And the Capitals have gone 6-3-1 in the last 10 games.
With the win, Washington got past the Hurricanes and into 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Winnipeg Jets, leaders of the Southeast Division, are only two points ahead of Washington, and the Capitals have two games in hand.
The Jets are staggering around right now, with three wins in their last 10 games.
There may be reason for optimism in Washington, but are the Capitals’ playoff chances and hopes realistic? The Capitals are 10-3-0 against other teams in the Southeast. The Capitals have 12 games remaining in their schedule, and five of those are against teams in the Southeast.
The Capitals are 4-5-0 against teams in the Northeast Division, and six of their remaining games are against teams in that division.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.
Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.
The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.
To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).
Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:
Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):
McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: