With only two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Caps have already earned the top spot in the division, the conference and the NHL heading into the playoffs. And that, apparently, is a bad thing.
You know that list of accomplishments the Caps wanted to achieve in the regular season? Win the division, win the Presidents' Trophy, etc.? Well, apparently they would have been better off avoiding those things instead. At least that's what New York Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck believes.
Brett Cyrgalis of the New York Post wrote an article Monday about how the Islanders seem to be flying under everyone's radar and how the team is just fine with that.
In it, Clutterbuck is quoted, "I don’t think it’s a positive thing when you turn on the TV every single time and you have everybody in the world telling you you’re supposed to win the Stanley Cup. I’d hate to be the Washington Capitals right now. A lot of pressure.”
Yes, it must be such a burden to have already qualified for the playoffs. Perhaps he's just excited by the fact that the Islanders being in a wild card position will mean fewer games at the Barclays Center and that Islanders fans will actually be able to find seats in a stadium where they will be able to see the ice.
Now, let's be fair. There is certainly a lot of pressure on the Capitals team to succeed in the playoffs. Given this team's history of postseason struggles and that Washington has established itself as the best team in the NHL from pretty much start to finish, there's a lot of pressure to succeed now before the championship window forever closes on the Alex Ovechkin era.
The Islanders are also not the first team to pull out the "nobody believes in us" card. The New England Patriots somehow use this as motivation every year despite the fact that they always seem to be one of the best teams in the NFL and have arguably the best coach and quarterback duo of all time. Yet, somehow they convince themselves no one believes in them and they use that motivation to make a deep playoff run.
It's not hard to understand where Clutterbuck is coming from. It's also not hard to see why this is ridiculous.
The Islanders are currently sliding down the standings after losing seven of their last 10 games. Starting goalie Jaroslav Halak is out with a lower body-injury and is not expected to return until the the end of April, probably at or near the end of the first round of the playoffs. When he suffered the injury, New York was in third place in the Metropolitan Division, five points ahead of Pittsburgh and six points ahead of Detroit. As of Tuesday, the Islanders are out of the top three in the division. They currently sit in the first wild card spot trailing Pittsburgh by three points and are only two points ahead of ninth-place Detroit.
Just a mont ago all signs pointed to the Islanders playing the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. Now it is far from certain that the Islanders will even make the playoffs at all.
So when Clutterbuck says he wouldn't want to be the Capitals, I'm guessing the feeling is mutual. The Capitals certainly would not want to be the Islanders either.
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