TSN's Bob McKenzie polled 27 head coaches between Jan. 23 and Jan. 25 for their opinions on the league landscape. Washington topped 16 coaches' ballots to win a title:
|NHL Coaches Poll—Stanley Cup Favorite|
|Los Angeles Kings||1|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||1|
|Source: TSN's Bob McKenzie|
The Capitals were the overwhelming winners in the Eastern Conference champions poll, collecting all but two votes, which went to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Western Conference was a little more up for grabs, with the Chicago Blackhawks earning 15 votes, while the Los Angeles Kings had 11.
As a result of the snowstorms that hit the East Coast earlier this month, Washington has played only 46 games but still sits atop the Eastern Conference standings. According to the Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan, the Capitals' 35 wins are the most ever for a team through 46 games.
NBC Sports' Eddie Olczyk (via NBC Sports PR) argued the team is still one piece away from being the unquestioned top team in the East:
NBC Sports PR @NBCSportsPR
"If they add a piece on the back end, I think the Eastern Conference goes through the Washington Capitals." - @EddieOlczyk @NHLonNBCSports2016-1-28 00:43:31
To a certain extent, the Capitals will also be battling recent history should they make the playoffs. The franchise hasn't moved past the second round/conference semifinals since its Stanley Cup Final run in 1997-98.
Washington's success so far in the regular season will be largely forgotten if the team once again makes an early exit from the postseason.