Washington Capitals: 3 Bold Predictions for the Final 2 Months of the Season
It's safe to say that 2013 has not gone as planned in Washington. The Capitals have really struggled to start the year and currently find themselves in fourth place in the Southeast Division. With two months remaining in the regular season, there is a lot that can still happen.
Through 20 games, the Caps have amassed just 17 points; that's third from the bottom in the entire league.
With offensive weapons such as Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, it seems surprising that the Capitals would struggle this much. However, they have had three coaches in a year-and-a-half and therefore have had to learn three different systems.
Though it seems bad, things are looking up in D.C. with some solid performances as of late.
There are still 28 games remaining for the Caps, enough time to get back on track. Let's look at some bold predictions for the rest of Washington's season.
Mike Ribeiro Will Finish in the Top 5 in Points
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Mike Ribeiro has been a fantastic addition to the 2013 Washington Capitals. The veteran has always been known as a top assist guy, averaging 46 helpers per year since 2005. He has not disappointed so far, registering 17 assists through 20 games.
Aside from setting up his teammates, Ribeiro has shown his own ability to put the puck in the net. His seven goals are second on the team.
He is currently tied with Eric Staal for 10th in the NHL in points, with a total of 24.
While leading the NHL in points is a stretch (Sidney Crosby leads with 34 points), there is no reason that the center can't crack the top five by season's end. He is just two points away from fifth place as it is right now.
Ribeiro shows no sign of slowing down and is a perfect fit for head coach Adam Oates' high-octane offensive system. He has been on a tear so far this year, collecting a point in 15 of his team's 20 games.
Look for Ribeiro to continue to show up on the scoresheet and be a key contributor to the Capitals' 2013 season.
Alexander Ovechkin Will Reach 20 Goals
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Alexander Ovechkin has seen his point total decline each year since the 2007-08 season. This current season is no different. The star winger started off slow, registering just three points in the first seven games of the year.
He didn't get his first goal until the fifth game.
Despite the early-season struggles, Oveckhin has started to show signs of life, collecting 12 points in his last 11 games.
On Feb. 23, against the Devils, he showed the hometown fans that his former self still exists. Ovechkin netted a hat trick and an assist—easily his best game of the 2013 campaign.
He currently has eight goals through 20 games, not the pace that would be expected from someone as talented as him. But with 28 games remaining on the schedule, there's plenty of time to turn his season around.
Ovechkin has been skating a lot stronger and gotten more comfortable in the new offensive system as the year has gone on.
If Washington is going to make a playoff run, it's going to have to start with the captain. Being fully aware of his responsibility to the team, look for Ovechkin to break out and show the world that he can still be great.
While 12 goals in the remaining 28 games is a bold prediction based on his current pace, it's not unrealistic, given his ability to score in bunches once he gets rolling.
The Caps Will Win the Southeast Division
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After winning the Southeast Division four years in a row, the Washington Capitals were in unfamiliar territory last season watching the Florida Panthers steal the division crown by just two points.
This season has the Caps in danger of once again not winning the division, and even missing the playoffs.
Currently, the Capitals have 17 points for the year. That puts them in fourth place in the division and next to last in the entire Eastern Conference.
The Carolina Hurricanes lead the Southeast with 23 points.
As bad as it may seem for the Caps, there is hope moving forward this year. Washington has started to come on, winning six out of its last nine games. With the exception of a poor game at Philadelphia, the Caps have looked strong even in recent losses.
Looking at the schedule, Washington plays 11 of its remaining 28 games against Southeast foes. Nine of those 11 are against the three teams ahead of them in the standings, including four against the division-leading Hurricanes.
Winning those games will quickly vault the Capitals toward the top of the division.
Being behind by six points with 28 games remaining is not a season-ending situation. While making up the points will be tough, it's not impossible.
Don't be surprised to see Washington in first place come season's end.