By Ian Oland
With 26 games remaining in the season, the Capitals are facing a worst-case scenario despite going all-in over the offseason: the team could miss the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons.
The Capitals, who are one of the oldest and least durable teams in the NHL, have seen their playoff chances fall under 50 percent for the first time this season using Micah McCurdy’s model.
Playoff chances over the past fortnight. pic.twitter.com/h3hnasecwN
— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 15, 2023
MoneyPuck’s odds have the Capitals at 38.3 percent. As my son would say: that’s a big yikes.
These cratering percentages are what make tonight’s Capitals’ game against the Florida Panthers especially huge. Actually, no. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
Florida sits two points behind the Capitals in the Eastern Conference’s wild-card standings. With a win, the Panthers would tie the Capitals with Washington having a game in hand. But if you look closer, Florida’s not the only team the Capitals have to worry about.
Pittsburgh (WC1), Buffalo (11th), and Detroit (12th) all have three games in hand, meaning there are up to a possible six standings points available to these teams. Detroit is 7-3-0 in their last 10 and has won four games in a row. I personally fear the Buffalo Sabres, who are young, hungry, and give me Caps’ 2007-08 vibes. The Sabres are 6-3-1 in their last 10 and are led by one of the most electric players in the NHL in Tage Thompson.
The Capitals (.554 points percentage) got themselves in this mess by simply being bad in all months except for December. The Capitals were 11-2-2 during that span, beating up on teams mostly beneath them in the standings. The rest of the season, the Caps are an under .500 team with a record of 17-20-4 (.463 points percentage).
If the Capitals are going to make the big dance safely, their aim should be 100 points, which they did last year to earn the second wild card in the East. To do so, they’d have to put up a points percentage of .731 in their next 26 games.
With games against Carolina and Detroit next on the schedule after tonight, the Capitals’ performance in these next three games could go a long way in determining if the team buys or sells at the trade deadline and what its roster may look like next season.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.