This morning the Capitals and Flyers are basically in a standings deadlock: 46-22-11, tied at 103 points apiece. Three games remaining for both clubs in this regular season concluding week. It’s a much different perch for the Flyers relative to last season, when they only qualified for the postseason as the East’s eighth seed by virtue of winning a shootout against the Rangers on the final calendar day of the regular season. The Flyers are in Ottawa tonight, while the Caps combat the Leafs a little south of the Canadian capital. After that, it’s a home-and-home for the Caps with Florida, beginning tomorrow night. With the Flyers facing a toughie in Buffalo Friday night, and potentially a repaired Ryan Miller in the Sabres’ lineup, you might be inclined to give a slight edge to the Caps in the race for no.1 overall in the conference.
That assumes of course that you’re interested in seeing the Capitals finish no. 1 in the East again — it didn’t seem to do them much good last spring. I take the position that besting the Flyers in everything merits full commitment; moreover, if the stars align and the teams were to meet in the conference finals next month, the likely scenario is a long series, and I’d want a game 7 here in D.C.
Technically, the Flyers hold no. 1 in the East this morning by virtue of having won more games in regulation play. That’s the germane tiebreaker come Sunday evening, and it’s reflected in the ROW column here. A tip of the hat to the Washington Times‘ Ted Starkey for pointing out this interesting tidbit: If Caps earn three regulation victories this week and the Flyers also win out but do so in shootout fashion twice, Caps would edge out Orange for no. 1 overall in the East.
But what happens if both teams end up tied in the standings and tied in ROWS? The next tiebreaker is points earned in the games between the clubs. The Caps went 2-0-2 on the slate versus Philly,
so they’d win that tiebreaker, taking six of a possible eight points. But Philly earned six points as well — all four games went to OT. The Caps and Flyers could get to the NHL’s ultimate tiebreaker this weekend: “the greater differential between goals for and against for the entire regular season.” The Flyers almost certainly would have edged out the Caps there: their goal differential on the campaign stands at 37, to the Caps’ 24.