Since January, the Washington Capitals have seemed like a virtual lock to make the playoffs. Tonight, they can make it an acutal reality.
According to the NHL’s PR, the Caps can become the first team to clinch a playoff spot if they can defeat the Lightning and the Islanders lose to the Blue Jackets.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 18, 2017
Saturday night in Tampa Bay, the Capitals will sport their full lineup and be 100% healthy for the first time since early February. Andre Burakovsky is scheduled to return from a broken hand that sidelined the Swedish forward since February 9.
While the Capitals can punch their ticket to the dance tonight, who they’ll be dancing with is still to be determined. Before the team’s bye week, the Capitals winning the Metropolitan Division crown and the President’s Trophy seemed liked a foregone conclusion. Instead, the Caps, who have continued their strong play but watched their shooting percentages crater, have gone 6-6-2 in their last 14 games. I miss you, unsustainably high PDO.
The .500 hockey has allowed the two other best teams in hockey, the Pittsburgh Penguins (6-3-1) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (7-2-1), to close to within two points of the Metropolitan Division lead.
Yeah this is insane.
So while the Capitals can clinch their third-straight playoff berth tonight, they still have much to play for…
In the Metro division, you want to finish 1st or 4th and nowhere in between. So NYR chill while Was/Pit/CBJ play like it's Game 7 for 3 wks
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 18, 2017
…like a date with the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs.
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