It’s not a Stanley Cup, but a fourth straight Metropolitan crown still has meaning to Capitals

NBC Sports Washington

There were no championship hats or puddles of beer, no dips in fountains or questionable tattoos.

Get a hold of yourself, it was just a Metropolitan Division title after all. The Capitals have done bigger, more important things. After the heady, Stanley Cup days of last spring and summer, it will take more than this to get the celebration rolling again. 

But don’t render the Metro title meaningless, either, after Washington beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 at Capital One Arena to clinch it. It is the fourth time in a row it has won the Metro, a quality division that has produced the past three Stanley Cup champions.

Take it for granted at your peril. The Capitals won four division titles in a row just one other time in franchise history dating to 1974-75. And that came in the old, maligned Southeast Division from 2008-2011 when the division was just five teams and the competition limited. 

Unlike 2016 and 2017, when the Metro was clinched early, this was more like 2018 when goalie struggles, a bad start and a February swoon made it touch-and-go well into March. It took until the second-to-last game to get there this time. 

“It definitely ranks maybe even sweeter than some of the other years because I think we really had to work for it this year,” center Lars Eller said. “We had to overcome suspensions, injuries, a lot of adversity. Maybe more than certain other years where things were coming a little bit easier. Even though nothing comes easy.”

The Capitals will learn that the hard way again during the Stanley Cup playoffs. They still don’t know their opponent – it could be any one of Pittsburgh, Carolina or Columbus. But it will definitely be a Metro rival. And given their history with the Penguins, last year’s epic first-round clash with Columbus and a rejuvenated Hurricanes team in the postseason for the first time since 2009, advancing isn’t a given for the defending champs. 

#hockey, #professional

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