óóó͘¥½®Öæƒþ®Ä›͘ěãWZ/>ϮϬϭϳ ϭϵ The Washington Capitals have been atop the eastern confer- ence standings for the vast majority of the regular season. Their captain Alex Ovechkin leads them in his 12th NHL season. The Caps are third in the league for goals scored per game* (behind Pittsburgh and Minnesota) and they lead the league in goal differential per game. The Caps have a powerhouse offense, but they also have one of the best goalies in the league, Brayden Holtby. Holtby is number one on the NHL leader board for goals against average at 1.97 and has the most shutouts with 8. Not only that, but the Caps have the highest save percentage in the league at 0.926 for their goaltending tandem. The Capitals could easily go all the way, but there are two things that could be problemat- ic. The first issue is history; the Caps have a recent history of being eliminated prematurely in the playoffs. They were the Southeast Division champs in the 2013 short season (due to half season lockout) and were booted out of the playoffs by the New York Rangers in the first round. To be fair, the Rangers fin- ished the season only one point behind the Caps. They were absent from the 2014 playoffs and in 2015 the Rangers again eliminated them, this time in the second round (the Rangers finished the season 12 points ahead of the Caps). Last season the Capitals finished with a whopping best in the league 120 points and were eliminated in the second round by the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Their second issue is the fact that Ovechkin hasn't scored in the past ten games and they've lost the last four straight. Ovechkin needs to get his mojo back if the Caps want to make it past the second round and defy history. Even with history against them this is a Caps team with the grit and resilience that was lacking over the past few seasons. Look for T.J Oshie and Brayden Holtby to be game changers this time around. Honorable mention: COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS THE WASHINGTON CAPITALS *All stats as of March 12th, this article was submitted a month before the playoffs. ^ŝĚŶĞLJƌŽƐďLJ ƌĂLJĚĞŶ,ŽůƚďLJ