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Playoff bubble watch — Washington Capitals edition

Mar 20, 2012, 12:30 PM EDT

Alex Ovechkin Getty Images

With the NHL playoff race getting down to the wire, we’ll be providing regular updates on each bubble team’s postseason push.

On the bubble: Washington Capitals

Where they stand: 8th in the East, two points ahead of 9th-place Buffalo

Games remaining: 9

SportsClubStats.com says: 73.1% chance of making the playoffs

Why they’ll get in:

Like most things Caps-related, it starts with Alex Ovechkin – the captain has five goals in his last four games, including two in last night’s huge 5-3 win in Detroit.

It’s also worth noting that four of Washington’s five remaining home games are against teams that definitely won’t or probably won’t make the playoffs – Winnipeg, Minnesota, Buffalo, and Montreal. (The other is against Florida.) The Caps are 23-10-3 at the Verizon Center, one of the better home records in the NHL.

Why they won’t:

They’re not exactly the most clutch team in history. The Caps have fallen short too many times when the pressure’s on to trust them to get it done. Only yesterday Roman Hamrlik was imploring his teammates to stop “making the same mistakes over and over.” One win against a banged-up Detroit side doesn’t mean they’ve finally figured it out.

Quotable:

“That was probably the best period we’ve played all year. I thought after the first period, ‘That’s the Washington Capitals. That’s what we can play like.’” – forward Jason Chimera on the Caps’ first period against the Wings that ended with Washington leading 3-0.

Key game coming up:

Thursday at Philadelphia

  1. tomahawk12 - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Don’t have it. Never make it. So long.

    • govtminion - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:09 PM

      Oh I don’t know. I think they’ll get in.

      …I also think they’re first-round food for the Rangers, but that’s life.

      • rsl22 - Mar 20, 2012 at 8:35 PM

        As a Caps fan, the only team I think the Caps can beat is the NYRs. I just hope Backstrom comes back soon and can help make that happen.

      • govtminion - Mar 20, 2012 at 10:51 PM

        Very different Caps and Rangers teams this year from last year’s showdown. I’d give the Caps a game or two, but no more than that.

  2. flyingblindoh3 - Mar 21, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    Caps won’t win the Southeast – Panthers have the easiest schedule in the league for the remainder of the year based on percentage of points (points obtained vs. points available) for their remaining opponents so they will stay on top. Only Tampa Bay at 29th and the Canes at 28th have an easier schedule than the Caps. Everyone else the Caps play has a tougher schedule than the Caps through the rest of the season. With more home games left than away (5 to 4), the Caps have a better than average chance of making the 8th seed. Jets are on the road for 6 of their last 9 – good luck getting points there when you are 11-20-4 on the road (28th in the league). Buffalo is on the road for 5 of 9 and although their road play is better than the Caps their toughness of schedule will pick up and they will fall off – plus their ROW is an obstacle to making it.

    So simply put, the Caps get the 8th seed in the east… how they do after that, well…

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