The Caps have lost six of their last nine games. The Columbus Blue Jackets have lost 10 of their last 15. With both teams currently sputtering, that makes this week's home-and-home series between the two extremely important.
Home-and-home series seem to take on greater significance than normal regular season games. By playing the same team twice in a row, it can feel like a mini-series. It changes the way the coaches and players approach those games and it boosts the intensity up a notch.
SEE THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE
Add in the fact that these are two teams in desperate need of wins and we could be in for some pretty compelling hockey this week.
So far, their recent struggles have not cost the Caps as they still sit atop the Metropolitan Division, but their lead has shrunk to just three points. The outlook is not as rosy for Columbus which currently sits in the top wild card spot. Two wins could propel them back into the top three of the division. Two losses could see them fall out of a playoff spot altogether.
A lot more is on the line this week than you would usually expect for early February.
How do these two teams currently stack up among the rest of the NHL? Find out here in this week's NHL Power Rankings.
In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.
Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.
But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.
Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]
Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.
While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.
In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020.
Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short.
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The odds have never gone the way of the Washington Capitals.
After years of being the common pick to finally break through and win the Stanley Cup, this was most definitely not the year.
Yet, here we are with the Capitals as one of the final two teams standing.
For their upcoming Stanley Cup Final, the Caps are the underdogs against the Las Vegas Golden Knights. The opening line from OddsShark has the Golden Knights as -135 money line favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals were listed as +115 underdogs.
Vegas (the betting entity, not the team) has not exactly been the most reliable this year though. After all, the Golden Knights were 100/1 odds to win the whole thing. Now they are four games away.
In their past two series, Washington was not the favorites. The Capitals have not been favorites since the First Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
For years in the Alex Ovechkin era, they have been the favorites to not only go on to play for the Stanley Cup but winning it.
In 2018 they started the season tied for the fifth best odds to win the Cup (14/1), one of their lowest opening marks in the past decade. For the full perspective, Washington was tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs and behind the Dallas Stars at the start of the season.
Without question this underdog role has fit them quite well, they shouldn’t want anything to change heading into the biggest postseason series in 20 years for Washington D.C.
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