March 11 by The Hockey Daily
We’ve seen it many times before. The team that goes into the playoffs hot wins the Stanley Cup. Right now, the Washington Capitals and the St. Louis Blues are two of the hot teams in their respective conferences with the playoffs approaching. The Caps are further along in their streak posting a record of 8-1-1 in their last ten. The Blues last ten isn’t as dominant at 6-4 but they have not allowed a goal in their last two games. Plus, the Blues are 5-0 since acquiring stud defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.
The Washington Capitals
Ovechkin is back to his old tricks. OV started the season slow and everyone panicked. People accused him of being washed up and no longer capable of scoring with the elite players in the league. Looks like everyone was wrong. Ovechkin is tied for the lead league in goals now and he doesn’t look to be slowing down. The Great 8 is having big nights, showcasing his ability to dominate teams when he’s hot.
Mike Green is red hot. It’s been a while since Mike Green was considered one of the best offensive defenseman in the NHL simply because he wasn’t putting up the numbers. But over the last month, Green has been an absolute weapon for the Caps. Green has five goals in the last two weeks to lead all defensemen.
The Importance of Brooks Laich. It’s no fluke that since Brooks Laich’s return to their lineup the Washington Capitals have been winning. He’s an underrated player with many intangibles and much leadership. Laich gives the Caps the opposite of what Ovechkin and Backstrom provide. He battles hard on every shift and relies on his strong will to compete more than his skill level. He is the Capitals’ heart.
The St. Louis Blues.
Their forward group is as deep as anyone in the NHL. The Blues have a very good group of forwards. Their top three lines are as good as any team in the league thanks to an unbelievable wealth of players. The most impressive thing about their forwards is the range in qualities they possess. They have the power guys in Stewart, Backes and Berglund. They have skill guys, McDonald, Tarasenko, Oshie and Perron. And they have two way specialists, Sobotka and Steen. Keep in mind that almost everyone of the players mentioned above can double from one category to another.
The Blues have a great blue line. Since adding Jay Bouwmeester the Blues’ defense group are among the best in the league. Big, strong and mobile all in one, the St. Louis rearguard is exceptional. Although good defense is a reflection of all 6 players on the ice at any given moment, with the defense they have it’s no surprise they’ve allowed only 5 goals in their last five games.
The Blues are built like winners. If you consider the last two Cup champions the Los Angeles Kings and the Boston Bruins, the St. Louis Blues are built similarly. A lot of size, a lot of team toughness and big strong defenseman. They are going to give some high seed a lot of problems in the playoffs. Depending on the match up they could very easily pull an upset. The Blues have proven playoff goaltender Jaroslav Halak to hold the fort in between the pipes, giving them one of the most well rounded, solid lineups in the entire league. The currently sit 6th in the West with 46 points but by the time the season is over they could very easily be in 4th place, with home ice advantage in the first round.