Who’s Playing Whom, and What It Means

As the hockey season winds down, much attention is given to the likely first-round pairings. What team would the Capitals least like to face, or whom would they match up with the best? Would Capitals fans like to see a Battle of Pennsylvania in the first round to ensure one of their fiercest rivals fall early — or perhaps see a black hole rip the fabric of reality and suck in both teams?

But the NHL regular season isn’t over yet; the games are not only opportunities to tune up for the playoffs, but seeding implications remain as well. So, let’s examine exactly who’s playing whom before the playoffs.

My good buddy Fred compiled a list of teams’ opponents for the remainder of the regular season; I’ve updated the schedules and rankings as of Sunday night:

Eastern Conference Games Remaining
Blue-ish squares indicate opponents currently playoff-bound. The Rangers have the toughest remaining slate, with all six games against playoff teams and three of those six on the road. Montreal, while facing a difficult lineup as well, plays three golfing-in-April teams and has one more game remaining than the Rangers. The five-six race is a one-point gap, with the Pens holding an extra game in hand and a roughly equivalent opponents as the Canes.

At the other end we find the Capitals, who face a grand total of zero playoff contenders. Of course, we all know that non-playoff teams revel in the spoiler role — too many past March-Aprils saw the Capitals playing to knock a playoff-grasping opponent out of contention, or at least down a few pegs.

So the task for Coach Boudreau is to keep the team focused and playing sound hockey despite the weak records of their remaining opponents, because home ice advantage is never something to take lightly. After all, every single team currently in a playoff spot has a noticeably better home record than away, and the Caps — while not as invulnerable at home as they once were — are still an impressive 27-9-2 at the Phone Booth.

Comparing the Caps’ remaining schedule to the Devils’, it seems Washington has the inside track for 2nd in the East — if they can stay focused, and beat the teams they should beat.

Let’s hope the Capitals hit this final stretch at full speed, and carry that mo’ deep into the playoffs.

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10 Responses to Who’s Playing Whom, and What It Means

  1. Patrick says:

    This saves me from trying to figure each scenario out, Thanks. It would be great if we could update it as the playoffs close in.
    This year’s Caps seem to have trouble focussing when faced with an opponent that is lower in the standings, but something like this laid out on the board would surely help to bring those matchups a little more spark!
    I relish the thought of playing some of the bottom-feeders in the first round.
    Is Brent Johnson practicing yet, or are we going into the playoffs with a rookie backup?

  2. Patrick says:

    OFB does it again!!!!!!!! No games for the Caps in the near future, but you find another excellent way to draw attention to the playoff races happening around our idle warriors! Thanks Mike, superb job!
    Rangers-Devils matchup is very interesting tonight!

  3. GOCAPS says:

    Good stuff! Wow, the Rangers really have it tough. Though you could also say they have control of their own destiny and going on a run against that list of teams would vault them to a higher seed.

  4. MulletMan says:

    I wish you would have also included Florida in that list. I’m hoping that they are able to knock one of the higher up teams down a notch so that the weak southeast would seed three teams.
    Florida is currently 1 point back from Montreal and 2 back from the Strangers. Upcoming games are Sens, Pens, Cryers, 2-Thrashers, and Caps. Looking at the StRangers schedule…they are definately catchable.

  5. OrderedChaos (Mike Rucki) says:

    MM: Yeah, the Panthers’ sched has 3 playoff teams & 3 non-playoff, as you pointed out. If Montreal can spend their game-in-hand by beating Chicago (note: the only Western team on the entire chart), then they’re likely in the post-season.
    Florida’s best shot is likely to catch the Rags, — though anything’s possible. Lots of questions remain for seeding 2-9… fun times!

  6. Seat13 says:

    This is great. Just printed out several for the folks around the office. Saves a lot of headscratching. Thanks OFB!

  7. Jessie says:

    hooray for finally being up on new jersey without them having a game in hand! now that that’s the case, here’s to keeping that lovely #2 seed…

  8. Curtis says:

    Hey Mike!
    Thanks for the updates. I have it posted in my classroom and my sons have it on our fridge! We are so excited for the playoffs to start. Hope all is well.
    Caps fan from York PA

  9. CapsFan1975 says:

    Well, hope the Rags (as they call the Rangers in the Caps blogosphere) can help us out once again by beating Carolina.
    And how about this note. The Pens next two opponents are, get this, New Jersey and Carolina. You mean Caps fans will actually be breaking down to root for Pittsburgh! The very team that reminds me of my younger daughter’s middle school rivals, with all the smack talk and rumor mongering back and forth.

  10. MulletMan says:

    Why would you be rooting against Carolina right now??? There are no more 4 point swing games in the Caps schedule (games vs Carolina or Florida).
    According to my calculations, the caps only have to gain three points in six games to lock up the division. Right now the caps have 99 points. Carolina has five games remaining with 91 points, if they win out they could only reach 101 points.
    I would love to see Carolina finish fourth and Florida squeak into the playoffs. That would give the oh, so weak southeast three teams in the playoffs.

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