Leaving Thursday night’s not-even-close loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Washington Capitals seemed to finally face the sobering reality that they will almost definitely not be participating in this season’s playoffs.
The Caps, who have been an under .500 hockey team in every month of the schedule other than December, have amassed just 77 standings points from 76 games played. As they get ready for the final two weeks of the 2022-23 campaign, even if they win every remaining game on their schedule they will finish with 89 standings points.
It will be the first time they have been unable to hit 90 points in a full, 82-game season since the 2006-07 season. That was Alex Ovechkin’s sophomore year in the NHL where the Capitals were rebuilding and coached under Glen Hanlon.
Caps general manager Brian MacLellan was asked earlier in the month how many points he believed the Caps would need to make the playoffs.
“I think we’re 95/96, around that area,” MacLellan said. “Could be higher depending how teams play down the stretch.”
They won’t be getting close to that number and it’s just about curtains when it comes to the more in-depth math as well.
Going into that game in Tampa, MoneyPuck had the Capitals’ chances of making the playoffs at 0.2 percent. After the Lightning loss, the Capitals’ chances are now 0. They aren’t even on the big visual anymore.
— MoneyPuck.com (@MoneyPuckdotcom) March 31, 2023
The Capitals’ 5-6-3 month of March has benefited them in one way though. MoneyPuck currently has them with the 11th-best odds (3.7%) of winning the draft lottery and getting to draft a potential generational talent in Connor Bedard. The 11 worst teams in the NHL will have a chance at the first overall pick.
Whether that percentage goes up or not is dependent on both how well the Caps do in their final six games and how well the teams around them in the overall league standings do. That performance will also determine where the Capitals rank on Micah Blake McCurdy’s “sadness” chart.
As of March 31, the Capitals are leaders there in terms of the team most likely to miss the playoffs and not draft within the top five picks. However, there is still “hope” to be had there as the Caps have played more games than every single other team on that list. Two of the teams, Ottawa and Buffalo, have already jumped over the Caps in the standings.
Additionally, when we look at the remaining strength of schedule around the league via Tankathon, only the Blues (1st) have a tougher final run than the Caps (4th).
With their current place in the NHL standings, disregarding the lottery process, the Caps would be drafting at 11th overall in the first round. If that holds, that would be Washington’s highest draft pick since they selected Filip Forsberg 11th overall in 2012.
But if you remember correctly, that pick originally belonged to the Colorado Avalanche. The Caps haven’t made their own pick as high as 11th since they took Karl Alzner fifth overall in 2007.
If it wasn’t abundantly clear already, it’s incredibly clear now. It’s time to throw out any talk of the Caps making the playoffs.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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