The Washington Capitals have a chance of winning their sixth straight division title, but they will need some serious help from an unpredictable source.
The Capitals, who have a game in hand, sit two standings points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins coming into Saturday’s games.
Per the NHL’s PR, here are the clinching scenarios:
The Pittsburgh Penguins will clinch the No. 1 seed in the MassMutual East Division:
* If they defeat the Buffalo Sabres in regulation AND the Washington Capitals do not defeat the Philadelphia Flyers in regulation;
* If they defeat the Sabres in any fashion and the Flyers defeat the Capitals in any fashion;
* If they get one point vs. the Sabres and the Flyers defeat the Capitals in regulation AND the New York Rangers defeat the Boston Bruins in any fashion.
The Washington Capitals will clinch the No. 1 seed in the MassMutual East Division if they defeat the Flyers in regulation AND the Sabres defeat the Penguins in regulation AND The Rangers defeat the Bruins in regulation.
The Penguins play the Sabres at 3 PM. In such a hugely important game, the Penguins will start Maxime Lagacé, their third-string goalie. It’s not because they want to, but because Tristan Jarry and backup Casey DeSmith are both out due to undisclosed injuries. The Sabres will also go way down their depth chart and start Michael Houser, who gave up eight goals to the Penguins on Thursday.
Meanwhile, in Washington’s game against the Flyers, third-string goaltender Craig Anderson will get the nod with starter Vitek Vanecek playing Friday night and Ilya Samsonov on the COVID-19 Unavailability List. The Flyers will turn to third-stringer Alex Lyon after Brian Elliott helped lead the Flyers to a 4-2 victory the night before.
The East Division title and home ice for the first two rounds is at stake today. The goalies? Maxime Lagace, Michael Houser, Craig Anderson and Alex Lyon.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) May 8, 2021
If there’s any evidence that this is the Weirdest Year, this is it. Home ice is at stake, and some of the least heralded goalies in the NHL are playing in the decisive games.
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