With 26 games left on the schedule - including nine against Eastern Conference division leaders - the team should have modest goals the rest of the way, and anything close to a .500 record the rest of the way would have to be considered an impressive achievement. Of course the trade deadline looms, and that could potentially shake up the roster, though after signing Kolzig and forward Chris Clark to extensions (see Sunday's WaPo article on Kolzig's extension here), the Caps have relatively few tradeable commodities beyond disgruntled blueliner Brendan Witt.
But without a doubt the race for the Calder Trophy will provide Caps fans with playoff-like anxiety and keep all of us interested until the very end of the season. Every night there will be scoreboard watching and every power play will become that much more important. As it stands now, Alex Ovechkin has 36 goals and 33 assists in 55 games (and has 26 games left), Sidney Crosby has 28 goals and 37 assists in 58 games (23 left) and Ranger goalie Henrik Lundqvist is 25-7-6 with a 2.09 goals against average and a .927 save percentage (and 24 games left). Personally, I think Lundqvist is being overlooked as his numbers and what he's done for the Rangers are truly staggering. Of course, Ovechkin's numbers are also remarkable, considering the talent level surrounding him. If I had a vote and had to register it today, I'd vote for Ovechkin, followed very closely by Lundqvist.
Finally, the Caps will once again (in all likelihood) be participating in the League's draft lottery. Be sure to tune in and see how the League rigs it for the Pens this year!
Elsewhere 'round the rinks:
- Today is Mats Sundin's 35th birthday. Sundin, who has the most goals, assists and points of any Swedish-born NHLer, needs to play just 18 more games to pass Hall of Famer Borje Salming for the most NHL games played by a Swede.
- Hart: Pavol Demitra (Goal, 3 assists, +2, 6 SOG)
- Ross: Pavol Demitra (4 points)
- Norris: Lubomir Visnovsky (Goal, 2 assists, +2, 5 SOG)
- Vezina: Jean-Sebastien Giguere (Win, 23 saves on 24 shots against)
- Richard: Ryan Smyth, Lee Stempniak, Joffrey Lupul, J.P. Dumont, Patrick Marleau (2 goals each)
- Calder: Ryan Kesler (Goal, fight, +2)
- Aiken: Marty Turco (L, 6 goals against on 40 shots as he blew a three-goal third period lead)