No. 2: Washington Capitals, 6/1
Record: 32-7-3, 67 points
The current Presidents’ Trophy holding Washington Capitals have the combination of a stellar offense and defense. They rank second in the league in goals for and goals against. Their top line of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie has a combined 107 points, and their offense goes much deeper than that line. Their third line is a solid offensive unit that can create opportunities, score and eat up time until the Capitals come back and kill you with their first line.
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The top defenseman on the team, John Carlson, is sidelined with an injury, but he has six goals and 21 assists through 34 games. He is expected to come back in the next couple weeks from his lower-body injury, and he will make the Capitals even stronger, which is very scary and very bad news for Eastern Conference teams. The rest of the defensemen all have positive plus/minus ratings, which is phenomenal for defensive players and really shows how strong the team is.
The Caps have also seen the emergence of Braden Holtby in net, as he has become the best goaltender in the league through this season. He is allowing fewer than two goals a game, is posting a .932 save percentage and is also the starting goalie for the Atlantic Division in the All-Star Game.
No matter how good the Capitals are this season, it is still hard to forget history, which shows they have been bounced from the playoffs by the Rangers in their past three playoff appearances. This season might be the one in which they break that streak, but I still think neither of those teams will beat the Habs in the playoffs.
Next: No. 1: Dallas Stars