Tuesday night action in the NHL had huge repercussions for the playoff race. The Caps again earned a loser point against the awesome Kings, but it wasn’t enough to vault them over the competition. And while the current standings look like a tense four-way tie for the conference’s two wild card spot, it’s not that simple.
Because of all those shootout wins early in the season, the Caps are lagging in regulation and overtime wins (ROW), which is the primary tiebreaker should teams be tied after 82 games. It’s unlikely the Caps can catch Detroit’s ROWs in the final nine games, so they’ll need to earn more standings points. Plus, Columbus and Detroit both have one extra game left to play.
And yet, I’m kind of optimistic.
Maybe, but I see Tuesday’s games as a sifting of teams to where they should be. Glancing at the Buy N Large Out-of-town Scoreboard, it went pretty good for the Caps. The insurgent Jackets beat the injured and aging Red Wings in the best way possible: #rego. The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their hilarious tumble down the standings by getting completely blown out by the Blues (outshot two-to-one during even strength).
The way I see it, Columbus will be a playoff team unless they hit a PDO wall in their final ten games. Travis Yost published an article the other day showing how Lumbus’ puck possession has been on the rise in the last couple months. They might be the real thing.
Meanwhile, Detroit and Toronto are in serious trouble. Detroit is a well-coached team, but they’re profoundly hobbled. And the Leafs are a gang of hobos pissing kerosene on a tire fire in front of a national audience. To earn that final wild card spot, the Caps merely have to keep doing what they’ve been doing: winning points any way they can (such as ten of the last twelve). And they’ve also got to hope both Detroit and Toronto keep circling the drain.
That might be difficult, as three of Toronto’s last four games are against some of the league’s worst teams (Jets, Panthers, Senators).
Detroit’s schedule is much tougher aside from two “gimme” games against the Sabres. And also this coming Saturday night, when the Wings and Leafs will play one another. That same night the Caps will host the beasts of the east, the Boston Bruins.
Expect that to be just as big as tonight was.