5 Biggest Reasons Washington Capitals Should Be Confident About 2013 Playoffs

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5 Biggest Reasons Washington Capitals Should Be Confident About 2013 Playoffs
Greg Fiume/Getty Images

As improbable as it seemed a month ago, the Washington Capitals are going to the NHL playoffs for a sixth consecutive season. Not only that, but the Caps will enter the playoffs as the Southeast division champions and the No. 3 seed.

In one of the most remarkable turnarounds in recent memory, the Caps have officially laid to rest the memory of a dreadful 2-8-1 start.

Not too bad for a team that seemed dead in the water and was 10 points out of the division lead back on March 10.

Not even Thursday night's 2-1 overtime loss to the Ottawa Senators could really put a damper on things. The Sens were playing for their playoff lives and it showed—and the Caps still almost beat them.

So now it is on to the playoffs for the Caps and time for all those nagging and semi-painful questions to be asked yet again.

Is this the year? Is this finally the year? Can the Caps actually get to the Eastern Conference Finals—or perhaps even further?

Longtime Caps' fans will be understandably pessimistic. With the exception of the 1998 playoffs, the NHL's annual tournament has been a house of horrors for the Caps.

The Caps have been to the playoffs 23 times in their history and have never won the Stanley Cup. They have only made it to the Conference Finals twice, getting swept by the Boston Bruins in 1990 and then breaking through against the Buffalo Sabres in 1998.

There have been far more heartbreaking and disappointing moments for the Caps than there have been highlight moments.

There was the Easter Epic, otherwise known as Game 7 of the 1987 Patrick Division Semifinals where the Caps lost in the 4th overtime to the New York Islanders.

What is more depressing is that is not the only four-overtime game the Caps have lost: They fell in Game 4 of the 1996 playoffs to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens are a separate subcategory of agony for the Caps as they have beaten the Caps seven of the eight times the have met in the playoffs, rallying from a 3-1 series deficit twice and a 2-0 series deficit twice more.

Guess who will be the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference this season?

During the Alexander Ovechkin era, the Caps have again failed to come through. They have never reached the Eastern Conference Finals and, along the way, endured one of the biggest upsets in NHL playoff history when they fell to the No. 8 seeded Montreal Canadiens in 2010, blowing yet another 3-1 series lead in the process.

But fret not, Caps' fans: There is plenty of reason to be optimistic and confident about the Caps' chances this postseason.

Here then are the five biggest reasons the Washington Capitals should be confident about the 2013 NHL playoffs.

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