The Washington Post

Addition by Division for Caps

Washington taking advantage of a weak Southeast

The Southeast Division is widely believed to be the weakest in the NHL. After all, it’s jokingly referred to as the “Southleast.”

The surging Capitals have benefitted greatly from the recent inconsistency and downright collapses of the division’s other teams.

“Our division hasn’t been that solid this year,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “We can’t argue that.”

Since defeating the Hurricanes on March 14, the Capitals are 11-3-1. Meanwhile, Carolina is 1-12-1 during that span. Entering that March 14 game the Hurricanes led the Caps by 10 points. Entering today’s game between the Caps and Hurricanes at Verizon Center, Washington leads Carolina by 10 points.

Meanwhile, the Jets have won two straight and trail the Capitals by only two points, but Winnipeg had lost five in a row before its recent rebound.

Need more convincing that the Southeast is the worst division in hockey? The Hurricanes, Lightning and Panthers are the three worst teams in the Eastern Conference.

“It wasn’t until about four days ago that we would even be in the playoff picture if it wasn’t for being on top of our division,” Hendricks said. “It’s definitely helping us.”

The Capitals have won six consecutive games against Southeast opponents and have a 12-3-0 record vs. their division.

“It’s been our saving grace this year,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “It’s been lucky that we’ve got to play those teams so much.”

Though they find themselves in a more solid position than they were a month ago, the Capitals are not taking anything lightly.

“Division games are the most important games you’re going to play,” forward Eric Fehr said. “If we’re successful in our division, we’re going to be in a playoff spot, so we know how important they are and we’ve got to win them.”

Adam Vingan is an Washington correspondent, the Capitals beat reporter for Express, and writes Capital Games for NBC Washington.



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Rudi Greenberg · April 10, 2013