Capitals clinch top seed in East but lack ‘urgency’

Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates his goal against the Ottawa Senators during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 22, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

The Washington Capitals clinched the top seed in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday, which is what you expect when you’re up roughly a jillion points on the next-closest team.

(A “jillion” in this case being 19 points.)

It was a 4-2 win at the Ottawa Senators, powered by Alex Ovechkin’s 43rd goal of the season. First in the East was an accomplishment. The President’s Trophy will be an accomplishment, even if only one of the last seven teams to win best overall in the NHL regular season has gone on to win the Stanley Cup.

But neither home ice advantage nor another banner in the rafters don’t produce something coach Barry Trotz wishes the Capitals could experience a little more of before the playoffs arrive: urgency.

“We haven’t played a real meaningful game in a while, when it comes to how it affects us. We’ve got some work to do. The biggest thing is being able to sustain things. You need that urgency. We haven’t had those games – elimination games, those types of things yet,” said Trotz after the game.

“You can’t manufacture urgency. You have to get your back against the wall, and we haven’t had that for two months.”

While Trotz is obviously pleased at the Capitals’ point total and accomplishments, he admits that it has its drawbacks.

“The blessing of where we are is we’ve got room and we can try things,” he said,  “and the curse is where we are.”

The Capitals have 10 games remaining and have a 12-point lead for the President’s Trophy, which they can clinch with a Dallas Stars loss at Arizona on Thursday and a win at the New Jersey Devils on Friday.


Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.