Washington Capitals’ Playoff Math Redux

The Washington Capitals’ season is down to the proverbial wire: one or two games remain for each of the teams in the Eastern Conference race, and that race is tighter than fitting these guys into adjacent Metro Rail seats.
The Capitals received some help last night from New Jersey, who kept Boston to just one point with a late goal, a two-point night from former Capital Dainius Zubrus, and a shootout victory.
Pittsburgh chipped in by defeating the Flyers, in regulation. It certainly helps matters that the Penguins and Canadiens are battling for the first seed. Caps fans can only hope that Pittsburgh (on 4 days’ rest) plays Philly hard in their last game–Montreal must go at least 1-0-1 to ensure the Pens’ final game matters.
Yet Carolina won handily, led by Corey LaRose’s hat trick, putting the Southeast Division title firmly within their reach.
Read on for analysis, tiebreakers, and likely finishes . . . your own predictions and comments are welcome as always.

The Playoff Picture: Eastern Bubble Teams’ Remaining Games
Team Date H/A Vs. OFB Res Analysis Playoff Chances
Washington
.
90 points
3/25
3/27
3/29
4/1
4/3
4/5
Away
Away
Away
Home
Home
Home
Carolina
Tampa
Florida
Carolina
Tampa Bay
Florida
TU
LW
TU
TU
LW
TU
W
W
W
W
.
.
The Cardiac Caps won their first two games in heart-rending fashion; they won their next two with dominant performances, capped by last night’s victory in a sea of red. The Caps still need help from one or more of the teams they’re chasing, and more importantly they must look at Tampa and Florida as critical–both winnable games, but Coach Boudreau is certainly driving home that a winnable game is by no means already won.
7th Seed?
Carolina
.
92 points
3/25
3/28
3/29
4/1
4/2
4/4
Home
Home
Away
Away
Home
Home
Washington
Atlanta
Tampa Bay
Washington
Tampa Bay
Florida
TU
LW
LW
TU
TU
LW
OTL
W
L
L
W
.
Last week, “Suddenly the SE Division Title is no longer a foregone conclusion for Carolina.” Neither, it seems, is the making playoffs at all. But their win against Tampa puts them in good shape, and if they beat Florida the division crown is theirs.
.
T
iebreaker Scenario: The Caps would lose the first tiebreaker (wins), so they must exceed Carolina’s point total to win the Southeast.

SE Div Champs?
Ottawa
.
92 Points
4/3
4/4
Away
Home
Toronto
Boston
TU
TU
.
.
Given the oh-so-different ways the Sens and Caps started the season, it’s stunning to think that the Caps have a chance to bump the Senators out of the post season. The Sens head to Toronto Thursday night–and you know the Leafs are looking to play spoiler. Then Ottawa finishes its season hosting Boston a mere 24 hours later.
.
T
iebreaker Scenario: If the Caps and Sens end with the same number of points and wins, the Caps have the tiebreaker courtesy of their season sweep of the Senators. If the Sens go 1-1 and the Caps win out (or the Sens go 0-2 and the Caps 1-1), then the Caps are in. Unlikely but possible: the Sens could lose both games and the Caps could get two OTLs, thus giving the Sens the tiebreaker.

Golf in early April?
Boston
.
92 points
3/25
3/27
3/29
3/30
4/2
4/4
4/5
Away
Home
Home
Away
Away
Away
Home
Toronto
Toronto
Ottawa
Buffalo
NJD
Ottawa
Buffalo
TU
LW
TU
TU
LL
TU
LW
W
W
W
OTL
OTL
.
.
The Devils helped the Caps a bit Wednesday night, though the Bruins came away with a point. What the Caps need most from Friday’s Boston-Ottawa tilt is a regulation win for either team–and whom Caps fans root for will depend on the outcome of Ottawa’s Thursday game. A three-point Bruins-Senators bout would be terrible.
.
T
iebreaker Scenario: Equaling the Bruins’ point total will get the Caps into the playoffs. But with three games remaining, the Bruins must go 1-1-0 or worse for the Caps to catch them.

6th Seed?
Buffalo
.
88 points
3/25
3/27
3/28
3/30
4/1
4/3
4/5
Home
Away
Home
Home
Away
Away
Away
Ottawa
Ottawa
Montreal
Boston
Toronto
Montreal
Boston
TU
LL
LL
TU
TU
LL
LL
L
W
OTL
W
W
.
.
Last week: “4 of 5 against Montreal and Boston likely spells the end of their run unless Ryan Miller notches a couple shutouts.” An impressive 3-1-1 effort in the past five games has kept Buffalo alive, but with the number of teams ahead of them the Sabres will fall short of the playoffs this year.
Done
Philadelphia
.
91 points
3/25
3/28
3/29
4/2
4/4
4/6
Away
Away
Away
Away
Home
Home
NYR
NJD
NYI
Pittsburgh
NJD
Pittsburgh
LL
TU
LW
LL
TU
TU
W
OTL
W
L
.
.
Painful, but true: Capitals fans must root for Pittsburgh on the last day of the season. Though Philly finishes at home, the Devils are trying to stave off the Rangers to keep 4th and Pittsburgh is chasing the conference title.

T
iebreaker Scenario: Like the Bruins, equaling Philly’s point total will get the Caps into the playoffs. The Flyers must go 1-0-1 or worse to stay within the Caps’ reach.

8th Seed?
This entry was posted in Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Dainius Zubrus, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Washington Capitals’ Playoff Math Redux

  1. hotdog88gt says:

    6-14-1
    If only that could have been 7-13-1 or 8-12-1. But would that still have gotten GH “let go”?
    (And I don’t like the word “redux” but I don’t know why)

  2. I’ve had the same thoughts hotdog. In my more negative moments I dwell on that black weekend against Boston & Pitt, wishing the Caps had prevailed in even one of those two games.
    But this run, wherever it goes, is so heartening that those negative moments are few and far between. And how long has it been that Capitals supporters could say that?
    C’mon, Redux is fun to say . . . perhaps you have bad associations with the word from the “Apocalypse Now Redux” psuedo director’s cut? Reeee-ducks. 🙂

  3. Mark Tucker says:

    My money is still on Ottawa choking. I am hoping by 10PM tonight, I’ll be looking at a regulation loss by Ottawa, and regulation win by the Caps, which makes yellow rather green!

  4. yngwie says:

    Nice article, Mike. One of my coworkers just sourly noted that in today’s post article there is no mention of possibvle playoff scenarios.

  5. MulletMan says:

    Don’t suppose there is any chance that Ted would let us hang out in a section in VC tonight after the game to listen to or watch the final minutes of the laffs-sens game? If we could watch the feed on the big screen say 10 minutes after the three stars are announced…That would be great.

  6. JR says:

    Can I get greedy and ask that we please make the 7 seed? If we get in at 8 and lose to Pittsburgh, I might end up with a battery charge sound I encounter a Penguins fan.

  7. Spacemom says:

    Don’t count the Sabres out yet… Sure, we’re winning in overtime and Shoot outs, but Damn, we’re winning! At least until Saturday when I have Bruin/Sabre tix, okay?

  8. migz says:

    @MulletMan
    That’s an awesome idea. Is it possible? Bonus playoff push coverage? Someone make this happen 😛

  9. Garrett says:

    Ok, I think this is where we stand:
    If we win out (4pts) we’re in if ANY of the following happen:
    Ottawa doesn’t get 3 more pts: @TOR, BOS
    Boston doesn’t get 3 more pts: @OTT, BUF (BOS @OTT Fri may decide it)
    Philly doesn’t win out: NJ, PIT
    Carolina doesn’t beat: FLA
    Rangers only get 1 more pt: @NYI, NYI, @NJ
    If we get 3 pts we’re in if ANY the following happen:
    Ottawa doesn’t get 2 more pts: @TOR, BOS
    Boston doesn’t get 2 more pts: @OTT, BUF
    Philly doesn’t beat either: NJ, PIT
    Carolina loses in regulation: FLA
    If we get 2 pts we’re in if any the following happen:
    Ottawa doesn’t get any pts: @TOR, BOS (unless both our pts are OT losses)
    Boston doesn’t get any pts: @OTT, BUF
    Philly doesn’t get 2 pts: NJ, PIT
    If we get 1 pt we’re if the following happen:
    Philly gets no pts: NJ, PIT
    It’s impossible for us to end up with the same points as Boston or Philly without having the tie breaker (wins) nor is it possible for us to be tied with Carolina without losing the tie breaker. We have the tie-breaker vs. Ottawa except for that scenario laid out above)

  10. @ Mullet & migz:
    Fantastic idea! But I think it’s too short notice to pull it together for tonight, unfortunately. I’ve passed along the suggestion though, just in case.
    @ Spacemom:
    Fair enough — and I’ll certainly be rooting for Buffalo when they play Boston!

  11. @ Garrett:
    Good analysis! Basically if the Caps win out, and the Ottawa-Boston game is resolved in regulation, then the Caps are in. Winning out is the key, obviously.

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