The stage is now set for the Caps' biggest game of the season—a Tuesday night tilt with the Winnipeg Jets in D.C.—which will likely decide who wins the Southeast Division and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
It is certainly reasonable to assume that the Caps will win that game. After all, the Jets have not matched up well with the Caps this season. The Caps have taken three of four from the Jets, including all three of the games in Winnipeg by a combined score of 13-1.
The Jets did win the only matchup in Washington, though: a 4-2 win in the Caps second game of the season back on January 22.
Another compelling story that has developed is Alexander Ovechkin's quest for a third Rocket Richard trophy and possibly a third Hart Memorial Trophy. Could anyone have really imagined Ovi would be in the conversation for either award a month ago?
With 21 goals and 10 assists in his past 20 games, Ovi is very much in the conversation for both trophies, and his fantastic play is a major reason why the Caps sit poised to claim the Southeast Division crown for the fifth time in six seasons.
Ovi is as focused as I have seen him in years, and with the exception of the lackluster performance in Ottawa Thursday night, the Caps are playing as well as anyone in the NHL.
It sure seems like a playoff berth is going to happen for the Caps this season, a remarkable feat considering that awful 2-8-1 start. Once they get there though, what can we expect from the Caps' star players?
Which players might step up and possibly lead this team to places it has not been in some 15 years? Who might be the hero, and who could end up being the goat?
If the Caps are going to get to a place they have not been since 1998—namely the Eastern Conference Finals (ECF)—then they are going to require a supreme effort from the best players on the team. Exactly what will it take to get there? This article will explore that some.
For purposes of this article, I will be drawing some comparisons to the 1998 team, which is the only Caps team to ever reach the Stanley Cup Finals. I figure that for the Caps to repeat that feat—or at least reach the ECF—then several current stars are going to have to play at or near the level of their 1998 counterparts.
Here is a look at some expectations for the Caps' best players once the playoffs get under way.