The more things change, the more things stay the same.
The Caps looked to be worse than what most statistical models predicted over the summer during a lousy first 20 games of the season. But after Nicklas Backstrom was reunited with Alex Ovechkin and some home cooking at Capital One Arena, the Caps found their footing and shot into first place of the Metropolitan Division in late December.
If the playoffs started today, the Capitals would be the second seed and play the Eastern Conference’s best wildcard team, the Marcus Johansson-less New Jersey Devils.
At the All-Star Break, if the playoffs started today:
Tampa v Philadelphia
Boston v Toronto
Washington v NJ
CBJ v Pittsburgh
Vegas v Colorado
SJ v Calgary
Winnipeg v Dallas
Nashville v St Louis
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) January 26, 2018
That’s cool, but I want to point you to the potential matchup the Capitals would have, at this moment in time, if they were lucky and skilled enough to win their first-round series. The Caps would play the winner of the Columbus Blue Jackets/Pittsburgh Penguins.
So if the Penguins won that series, the Capitals would play Pittsburgh in the second round… again. My best recommendation is to stock up on Maalox and get your sad Bitmojis ready now.
The Capitals have an all-time playoff series record against the Penguins of 1-9.
The Penguins have defeated the Capitals in seven straight playoff series and in back-to-back matchups in 2016 and 2017 on their way to consecutive Stanley Cups.
The two teams would match up again due to a newish playoff format where there’s no reseeding and teams have to come out of their own division to make the Conference Finals.
There was once a time I was optimistic and wanted the Capitals to go through their demons to win a Stanley Cup. Now, I’m back to being that wishful-thinking kid back in 1998, hoping all the higher-seeded teams randomly lose so the Caps can just two-step their way to the Finals and make some magic happen then.
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