It’s widely accepted that the road to the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be tougher for the Capitals next season thanks to realignment and a competitive Metropolitan Division. Some respected pundits apparently don’t think the Capitals will make the postseason at all.
While many analysts will be making their preseason predictions in the weeks ahead, The Hockey News has already released its 2013-14 Yearbook and one of the most respected publications in the game is predicting the first spring without playoff hockey in the District since 2007.
The ‘Bible of Hockey’ has the Capitals finishing in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division behind the playoff-bound Penguins, Rangers and Flyers as well as the Blue Jackets and Islanders. The only teams that THN is predicting will finish below the Capitals in the Metropolitan Division are the Hurricanes and Devils.
For what it’s worth, all preseason predictions should be taken with a grain of salt. THN Editor Jason Kay acknowledges in this year’s yearbook that the “prediction process has become increasingly perilous.”
Consider that just two years ago, THN picked the Capitals to win the 2011-12 Stanley Cup. Instead, the Capitals fired head coach Bruce Boudreau 22 games into the season and scrambled at year’s end just to secure the 7-seed in the Eastern Conference.
It’s also a little puzzling that the magazine gives the Capitals better odds to win the Stanley Cup (30-1) than the Blue Jackets (40-1) and Islanders (40-1), but has Washington finishing lower in the standings than both Columbus and New York.
In addition to playoff appearances from the Penguins, Rangers and Flyers in the Metropolitan Division, THN is also predicting Eastern Conference playoff berths for the Bruins, Red Wings, Senators, Canadiens and Maple Leafs from the Atlantic Division. THN is picking the St. Louis Blues to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals.
On the plus side for Caps fans, THN’s annual poll of the NHL’s Top 50 Players has Alex Ovechkin at No.2, behind only Sidney Crosby. In THN’s 2011-12 Yearbook, Ovechkin was rated No.22.