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Capitals 'enjoying the ride' toward history

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Capitals 'enjoying the ride' toward history

The Capitals aren’t just having a great season. They’re having an historical season.

With their 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes Monday night the Caps have now won more games (44) through 58 games than any team in NHL history.

More than the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens, who totaled 132 points in 80 games with guys named Guy Lafleur, Ken Dryden and Larry Robinson.

More than 1983-84 Edmonton Oilers (119 points) with Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Jari Kurri.

More than the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings (131 points) with Steve Yzerman, Paul Coffey and Sergei Fedorov.

And yes, more than those high-flying, death-defying 2009-10 Capitals (121 points) with Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Alex Semin.  

“This team has had quite a lot of regular season success,” newcomer Justin Williams said in the aftermath of the Capitals’ 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes Monday night. “But I’m not quite sure it’s been this good.

“I keep waiting for the bad, for a little slump to come, and it hasn’t come yet. I’m a realist and know we’re going to need to ramp up our game in the last 20.”

Ramp it up?

These Capitals have not lost back-to-back games in regulation all season and are on pace for 130 points.

Their goaltender, Braden Holtby, is on pace for 54 wins – SIX more than Marty Brodeur’s NHL record of 48.

Their leading goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin, is on pace to become the first player since Wayne Gretzky to win four consecutive goal-scoring titles.

So why wouldn’t these Capitals be enjoying life right now?

“When you win some games and when the team plays well, everybody has a good mood,” Ovechkin said after netting his 39th goal, putting him on pace for 56.

“I hope it’s going to be until the end. We have a good locker room and everybody is supporting each other. Sometimes somebody has a bad night, but different guys step up and take care of each other.”

There is, of course, another issue at play here. The NHL trade deadline is six days away and Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan is wracking his brain over whether he should leave well enough alone or try to fortify the best team in hockey with a defenseman and/or a forward.

Williams, 34, says the Caps aren’t out to make history in the regular season.

“We’re just going to see how good we can be,” he said. “We’re trying to get better every game and nitpick and get out all the crap out of our game that won’t work come playoff time and see where it takes us. We’re enjoying the ride, just like everyone else is.”

MORE: Richards gets a big hug from Caps fans

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Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

Capitals place Taylor Chorney on waivers, which could signal something, or nothing

When the Capitals acquired defenseman Michal Kempny on Monday, that put the team at the maximum of 23 players on the roster including eight defenseman.

Another move seemed likely and the Caps made it on Tuesday by placing veteran blueliner Taylor Chorney on waivers.

Teams now will have 24 hours to potentially claim Chorney. Should he clear at 12 p.m. on Wednesday, it is expected that he will be sent to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Whether he is claimed or sent to Hershey, his entire $800,000 cap hit will no longer count against the Capitals' salary.

One important thing to note, however, is that placing Chorney on waivers was not required in order for Washington to remain under the salary cap.

Having eight defensemen would mean scratching two every game — assuming the team does not dress seven and after that failed experiment in last year's playoffs, why would they — which means it would be a struggle to make sure everyone gets consistent playing time in the final weeks of the season.

Perhaps placing Chorney on waivers is the team trying to get him more playing time to keep him sharp in case the team suffers injuries on the blue line and he is called upon in the playoffs.

Or perhaps it could mean something else.

RELATED: RANKING THE CAPITALS' TOP PROSPECTS

Chorney played on Feb. 15, but that was during the mentor's trip. Barry Trotz's policy for those trips is to get everyone in at least one of those two games. Before that, Chorney had not played since Jan. 2. It certainly seems like the team was comfortable with him being the designated No. 7 and was not all that concerned about getting him regular playing time before now.

When asked if the Kempny trade would mean any roster moves, Trotz said Monday that he was not sure and hinted that perhaps more moves could be coming from general manager Brian MacLellan. Moving Chorney's salary off the books does not clear much cap room, but it does clear some.

Perhaps MacLellan has another move up his sleeve before Monday's trade deadline.

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Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

Michal Kempny excited to move from last place Chicago to first place Caps

On Sunday, Michal Kempny was a defenseman struggling for a spot in the lineup for a team poised to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2008. On Monday, he became potentially an important piece on the roster of the first place Capitals.

The last few days have been quite the whirlwind for Kempny who tallied an assist for Chicago on Saturday in a 7-1 blowout against what is now his current team. While the Blackhawks may have gotten the better of Washington that night, Kempny is excited about the postseason opportunity that now lies in front of him.

"Nobody knows what's happening in Chicago, but I'm really happy and I'm really glad that I can be here," Kempny told reporters on Tuesday after his first skate with the team. "There is option of play a playoff and I'm very happy for it."

RELATED: WHERE MICHAL KEMKPNY FITS IN THE CAPS' LINEUP

The 27-year-old Czech defenseman played only 31 games for the Blackhawks this season, but considering Washington's need to shore up its defense before the trade deadline and the team's willingness to give up a third-round pick to acquire him, it is likely he will have a much more significant role with the Caps.

"I thought that I [was] going to get more space on the ice and more ice time, but I didn't play more than half games," Kempny said of his decision to originally sign with Chicago. "But now I'm here and I'm really glad that I'm here. Washington is amazing city and great organization and I hope I will get a chance to access myself on the ice more than in Chicago."

Kempny will not play in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, but did say he expects to play Thursday when the team visits the Florida Panthers.

When he does get into the lineup, it is unclear just how big a role he will play initially or how the team foresees utilizing him going forward. He is a left-shot defenseman and did tell reporters he prefers to play on that side. It seems unlikely the team would acquire him just to put him on his offside.

As of now, however, everything regarding his role in Washington is up in the air.

"I need everything settle down a little bit," he said. "New teammates, new people around here."

MORE CAPITALS: MEET MICHAL KEMPNY