Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Capitals, Affiliates Sitting Pretty

Last spring, while the Capitals advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, their two affiliates did even better, with the Bears capturing the Calder Cup and the South Carolina Stingrays winning the Kelly Cup.

This year, the three teams are continuing to make strong bids to capture a title, with all three teams holding sizable leads in their respective divisions.

Heading into tonight's game in Tampa Bay, the Capitals are currently 16 points up on the Thrashers and Lightning in the Southeast, and just three points behind the East's top seed in New Jersey, and one point behind second-seed Buffalo. They also are six points out of the President's Trophy lead that the Blackhawks currently hold - although Chicago has played two more games than Washington.

Down in the American League, the Bears also hold 60 points heading into tomorrow night's game down in Norfolk, and hold a 14-point lead over their closest Eastern Division rival in the River Rats. Boosted by a club-record 12-game win streak, Hershey swept a pair of games against the team they beat for the Calder Cup last June in Manitoba, and hold a five-point edge on all their Eastern foes, as well as a two-point lead for the league lead over the West's best, Hamilton.

Deeper in the system, the Stingrays are even more dominant, holding a 16-point lead over Charlotte in the South Division, and a six-point edge over anyone else in the league.

Is it possible the Capitals could turn a unique hat trick this spring? It's certainly shaping up that all three teams could make strong bids to capture their respective hardware, even perhaps topping last year's impressive double.

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