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NHL - US Sports: Capitals confident for play-off bid

Defenceman John Carlson says the Washington Capitals are a confident group heading into a first-round Stanley Cup Playoff match-up with the Florida Panthers.

The Capitals, 40/1 to win the Stanley Cup, qualified for the post-season via the second wild card spot from the Eastern Conference with a 44-26-12 record.

Washington won't have home ice advantage against the Panthers, but with an NHL best 25-10-6 away record that won't faze a side which went 10-3 on the road on way to winning their first Stanley Cup in 2018.

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With 71 points (17 goals, 54 assists) in 78 games, 32-year-old Carlson ranks fifth in points by an NHL defenceman this season.

Carlson was drafted in the first-round (27th overall) by the Capitals in 2008 and is part of a core which remains in Washington from the 2018 championship team.

Winning core remain in place

This includes Carlson's defensive partner Dmitry Orlov, as well as forwards Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson.

Coach Peter Laviolette also has experience of leading a team to the championship with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and he also reached the cup final with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and Nashville Predators in 2017.

Carlson said to the media: "I think over the last month or so we've played some of our best hockey all year. With that said I think we're a confident group. We know what we have in there and what we're capable of and now it's go time."

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