Despite having the worst record in hockey at 2-8-1 with only 37 games left to play in the shortened seasons, a defiant Washington Capitals squad vowed today that they will make their sixth consecutive postseason appearance once the playoffs roll around in two months.
"We've dug ourselves a big hole, no doubt about that," said team captain Alexander Ovechkin, after a 5-2 loss to the Penguins. "But we have the talent in this locker room to come roaring back and to enter the playoffs as the hottest team in hockey and really get everyone excited, only to then get eliminated in the first or second round. I guarantee it."
Ovechkin's brash guarantee of another early playoff exit was backed up by his teammates.
"I'm 100-percent behind Alex," said goaltender Braden Holtby. "I know I've seen nothing from this team that suggests we would win a playoff series. The toughest part will be making the playoffs, of course. But if we do? I'll say it, I'm not scared. Write this down: We will get eliminated immediately. How's that for confidence?"
New head coach Adam Oates believes he has a team that will have Stanley Cup buzz come the playoffs.
"There's no reason to panic. Stanley Cups aren't won at the beginning of the season," he said. "They're won at the end of the season — particularly in the playoffs. That's unfortunate for us. If Stanley Cups were won in the middle of the regular season, this organization would have a lot of Stanley Cups."
While the Capitals look to start winning, other teams in the Eastern Conference are jockeying to get a playoff seed that could match them up with the Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.
"If Washington makes the playoffs, it will likely be as a seven or eight seed," said Rangers head coach John Tortorella. "So getting that one or two seed is going to be very important this year."