Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Capitals enjoy a day away from the rink prior to departing on their final road trip of the regular season for games in Ottawa on Thursday and Montreal on Saturday:
Ovi for MVP: With 19 goals and nine assists in his last 18 games Alex Ovechkin is the hottest player in the NHL and is making a strong case for a third Hart Trophy to go with his MVP honors in 2008 and 2009.
He now leads the NHL with 28 goals and is fourth in points with 48, eight behind league leader Sidney Crosby, who has missed six games with a broken jaw. More importantly, Ovechkin’s resurgence – he had just two goals after the first 10 games of the season – has vaulted the Caps from last in the Eastern Conference standings to third.
Does that make him the league MVP?
“I’m obviously very biased about that, so my answer would be, ‘Yeah, absolutely.’” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “Obviously, Sidney Crosby is another candidate for sure. He had such a scoring lead, but I think you have to factor in the fact he missed a lot of games. That’s not for me to say, though. That’s you guys.”
“Obviously, Alex has really led our team. You see it every night now. You saw his energy [Tuesday] night. Obviously, every team we play has to focus on him. He’s in a good place. His linemates have played great for him and he’s helped them. I think that line has carried us and our power play is working. A lot of positive things.”
Eight and counting: The Caps’ 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night extended their win streak to eight games, their longest since winning nine in a row from Feb. 26 through March 15, 2011. For those wondering, the longest win streak in team history came midway through the 2009-10 season when the Caps they ran off 14 straight Ws. Even if they run the table in their final five games of the regular season the Caps would fall one win short of that record.
How they stand: The Caps’ magic number to clinch the Southeast Division has been reduced to seven with five games to play. That number is reduced by two with every Capitals victory and/or Jets regulation defeat. Since losing seven out of nine, including a pair of lopsided losses to the Caps, the Jets have won four straight.
Remaining schedules: The Caps finish out the regular season with games in Ottawa and Montreal, followed by home dates with the Jets, Senators and Bruins. Those five opponents are a combined 41 games over .500. The Jets finish with a pair of home games against the Hurricanes and Islanders, followed by road games in Buffalo and Washington and a home finale against the Canadiens. Those five opponents are a combined 21 games over .500.
Bringing the power: The Caps went 2-for-6 on the power play in their win over Toronto, increasing their league-leading percentage to 25.8, a full 2 percent better than second-place Pittsburgh. The Caps were also 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, which has allowed just one goal in the past four games [8-for-9]. The Caps still rank 29th in the NHL in penalty killing at 76.6 percent.
Dirt E-rat: Martin Erat recorded his first two-point game as a Capital, slicing to the net to redirect an Ovechkin shot for his first goal as a Capital and fifth of the season. He also added an assist for his seventh multiple-point game of the season.
Other notables: Troy Brouwer scored his 17th goal of the season and has now scored four goals in his last three games. Over an 82-game season that’s a 33-goal pace. Defenseman Jack Hillen now has three goals and three assists in the five games since learning of the birth of his second child. Knox [Hat tick] Patrick.