Capitals Dominating Eastern Conference

Henry Marshall, Assistant Sports Editor

The story of this NHL season has of course been the red-hot Washington Capitals. Their domination in the Metropolitan division has set them apart withan NHL-leading 40 wins. Superstar Alex Ovechkin has had a record season, scoring 35 goals so far. The 30 year-old from Moscow broke the record for the most goals by a Russian hockey player in the NHL back in November, surpassing Sergei Federov with No. 784 in a loss to the Dallas Stars. In the Capitals’ February 7 win over the Flyers, the left winger joined Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner as the only players to start their careers with 11 plus seasons of over 30 goals. Ovechkin shows no sign of slowing down with six goals in his last five games. However, it is his supporting cast of Nicklas Backstrom (17 goals), Evgeny Kuznetsov (15 goals) and T.J. Oshie (16 goals) that make this one of the most dangerous offenses in the league, especially with the return of Brooks Orpik. In the cage, goalie Braden Holtby, boasting a .926 save percentage and 35 wins, is poised to break Martin Brodeur’s season win record of 48. The Capitals are fun to watch as they bring Ovechkin closer and closer to hoisting his first Stanley Cup. 

Fighting at the heels of the Capitals in the Metropolitan are the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. The Blueshirts have won four of their last five, including two big divisional wins against the floundering Flyers. The Islanders trail the Rangers by only two wins, however the Isles have bettered the Rangers in both games so far this season. Don’t count the Islanders out of the playoffs yet, as 25 year-old captain John Tavares has 46 points on the season. The Atlantic division in the Eastern Conference has been a different story. The current divisional leader is the Florida Panthers, led by 44 year-old Jaromir Jagr, with 33 wins. Close behind are the Detroit Red Wings with 29 wins, the Boston Bruins with 30 wins and the Tampa Bay Lightning with 30 as well. The fate of the Bruins is truly in their own hands. The team has been hot and cold all season, taking four wins out of their last seven games. With very winnable games against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators in the near future, the B’s have the potential to slide ahead of Detroit and closer to a playoff berth.

The Western Conference has belonged to the dominant Chicago Blackhawks, who have won three Stanley Cups since the ‘09-’10 seasons and have made the playoffs every other year. Their biggest threat this season are the Dallas Stars, who also have 37 wins. This team has exploded since the team’s acquisition of Tyler Seguin from Boston, and has since become incredibly fun to watch. Seguin has 30 goals so far, and forward Jamie Benn has 64 points. This lethal first line combo will prove for an offensive shootout against Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the teams’ two remaining matchups. 

The 2015-2016 season has been historic so far. The introduction of the new 3 on 3-overtime format has generated some incredibly entertaining decisions. Additionally, a historically large trade of nine players bringing Dion Phaneuf  to the Ottawa Senators from the Toronto Maple Leafs has been the most recent major franchise rebuild. With the upcoming trade deadline and playoffs, hockey fans should be excited to see what the remainder of the 2015-2016 season holds.