Washington Capitals Pull Off Pivotal Play—Clinching Fifth Consecutive Playoff Appearance
For the fifth consecutive season, the Ovechkin-led Washington Capitals have clinched a playoff birth. Though, this season was not without its trials and tribulations when the team lost longtime coach Bruce Boudreau midseason. Further compounding issues down the stretch were injuries to goaltender’s Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun, which placed the onus on rookie net-minder Braden Holtby, who has only 21 NHL starts to date.
Everything changed during the second-to-last game of the regular season, when the Caps delivered a clutch performance, beating division rivals Florida Panthers for the eighth and final seed [double checked and it’s seed] in the playoffs.
“It doesn’t matter which position you are, it doesn’t matter what’s the standings right now,” said Ovechkin. “It’s most important thing to win. Next game most important thing right now for us—it’s [getting] ready for the playoffs.”
Now that Washington’s hockey team has secured the final playoff spot, they will not rest on their laurels. Despite the team’s fifth consecutive playoff appearance, a deep playoff run has been elusive.
“It was not pretty,” said Washington Post columnist Mike Wise. “It certainly was not perfect. But they got there.”
Getting there is half the battle— now it’s time for the Capitals to show their true mettle and make this season’s playoff run really shine. The team has grown up together over the past five years, so their experience should pay dividends.
Even with an up-and-down season, the Caps were an early favorite to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup finals. With Alex Ovechkin finally heating up and Nicholas Backstrom back from a long time injury, the team is positioned to shake the ‘potential’ label and turn their experience into a ‘pivotal play’ by taking home the Stanley Cup.