The Washington Capitals are well ahead of the rest of the NHL in the overall standings.
With a 2-1 OT win over the Carolina Hurricanes Tuesday, they became the first team to clinch a playoff spot. And as it turns out, they’re ahead of quite a few teams in NHL history as well.
It’s been a banner year for the Capitals, with only a Stanley Cup banner being the focus now. They currently hold a 14-point lead over the two teams closest to them in the standings, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues — both Western Conference clubs. They have the second-most goals for and the third-least goals against.
Goaltender Braden Holtby, meanwhile, is playing the best hockey of his young career. He leads the league in wins (41) and sports tremendous numbers in GAA (2.25) and SV% (.922).
Last season, Washington finished with 45 wins under new coach Barry Trotz, losing in the second round of the playoffs. Trotz is easily in the 2015-16 conversation for the Jack Adams award.
It's the second season for both Trotz and general manager Brian MacLellan and MacLellan's moves have gone a long way toward providing this organization with a new vision. Excising long-tenured players like defenceman Mike Green and adding playoff veterans like Justin Williams and Mike Richards were shrewd decisions that so far have worked out well.
It will still be the post-season where these Capitals will be judged but the Eastern Conference will be hard-pressed keeping them from the Cup Final.