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Caps still gunning for Southeast Division crown

Apr 2, 2012, 10:44 AM EDT

Montreal Canadiens v Washington Capitals Getty Images

While the Washington Captials’ primary focus is simply making the playoffs — they can clinch with a win tonight in Tampa and a Buffalo loss Tuesday night against Toronto — the team can’t help but wonder if something larger is within reach.

According to CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormely, it definitely is.

The Florida Panthers have lost six of their last seven, opening the door for a once-improbable notion — Washington winning its fifth straight Southeast Division banner.

The Capitals would need any combination of six points gained by the Caps or lost by the Panthers. That means the Caps can clinch the division title by winning their final three games against Tampa, Florida and the Rangers no matter what Florida does because they hold the first tiebreaker on the Panthers with more non-shootout victories.

However, if the Capitals lose in regulation tonight and the Panthers win at home against Winnipeg on Tuesday, the Panthers would go five points up on the Caps and clinch the Southeast, regardless of Thursday night’s outcome between the two teams.

Here’s another look at the remaining schedules for the Caps, Sabres and Panthers:

Capitals (88 points)         Sabres (86 points)    Panthers (91 points)
at Tampa Bay                            Toronto                             Winnipeg
Florida                                        at Philadelphia                at Capitals
at NY Rangers                          at Boston                           Carolina     

(NOTE: We realize Gormely’s math is a little off. Even if the Caps beat Florida, the Panthers can still finish with 95 points with wins over the Jets and ‘Canes. The Caps, meanwhile, can only hit a maximum of 94.)

As it stands, Washington can finish in three positions — third, seventh or eighth — and based on regular-season results, it might actually serve the Caps best to finish as the N0. 7 seed and play Boston in the first round.

The Capitals 3-1 against the Bruins this season, compared to 1-2 against the Rangers (who would be their first-round opponent if they finish eighth) and 1-1-2 against the Devils (who would be their first-round opponent if they finish third.)

  1. broadstbully33 - Apr 2, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    And what a pathetic crown it is

  2. jpelle82 - Apr 2, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    unless florida craps the bed i dont see the caps winning the se with that schedule ahead of them

  3. kotteintheslot - Apr 2, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    This is why they need to change the OT rules. Florida has 17 OT/SO LOSSES to Washington’s only 8. Take away these points from all teams and Caps have the pathetic SE title, Buffalo sits in 8th, and Florida is on the outside looking in. One goal losses are still loses.

    • davebabychreturns - Apr 2, 2012 at 11:36 AM

      Then we don’t have playoff races that go to the last day of the season, a lot more teams have meaningless games starting in February and early March which means less interest and ultimately less revenue at the gates.

      Even though every couple of years a team misses the playoffs that should not (and loses out on the two or three home playoff dates they would’ve had before being obliterated), that is far outweighed by the number of teams that would have thousands fewer coming to home games over the last month or so of their season.

      Say what you will about the integrity of the current points system (and I totally agree) but in a league where a large minority of the teams are struggling to keep their heads above water, the bottom line is the bottom line.

    • jond86 - Apr 2, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      I wouldn’t mind a slight change to the points system. 0 points if you lose in OT 1 point for losing in a SO. I just don’t see why you should get a point for losing 4 on 4.

  4. dagnats - Apr 2, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    they will have to win out…I don’t know if I see that happening…b/c as a caps fan history tells us not to expect too much

  5. gocaps25 - Apr 2, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    Apparently Gormley can’t do math:

    “That means the Caps can clinch the division title by winning their final three games against Tampa, Florida and the Rangers no matter what Florida does because they hold the first tiebreaker on the Panthers with more non-shootout victories.”

    If the caps win all three games, they finish with 94 points. If Florida wins both the other games (excluding the one against the caps), they finish with 95 points.

    95 > 94.

    • dagnats - Apr 2, 2012 at 11:40 AM

      yea, Gormley is the worst…and he sounds like a nerd…csnwashington has terrible “reporters”

      • dagnats - Apr 2, 2012 at 11:40 AM

        (except zuckerman from natsinsider)…hes legit

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