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Monday Roundup - The Road (And Home) Ahead

With the All-Star festivities behind us and meaningful hockey still a day-and-a-half away, let's take a quick look at what's facing the Caps between now and the end of the regular season.

We'll begin by noting that apparently the Caps have a 99% chance of making the playoffs (h/t AO), and will most likely finish in third in the Conference (though they are the team most likely to finish in second), where their most likely opponent in the first round will be... the Philadelphia Flyers (who no doubt will have a suddenly healthy Danny Briere, Peter Forsberg, and whomever else the acquire down the stretch while they hide Briere on LTIR... but we digress).

But there are games to be played between now and then - 34, to be exact - and the schedule is quite favorable for the Caps. How favorable? Using opponents' winning percentage as the metric, the Caps have the easiest remaining schedule in the NHL - a dozen of the 34 games left (35%) are against teams which would have a ping pong ball in the lottery if the season ended tomorrow.

The Caps also have 18 home games left, only leave the Eastern time zone once (and that's a trip to Nashville... which is closer to D.C. than two of the Caps' four Southeast Division foes and just an hour behind Eastern Standard Time), and have just four sets of back-to-back games (they've played nine such sets already this season). The team does have a five game road trip in March that will take them to each of the other Southeast barns and Toronto, but from mid-February through early March they have a string of nine out of ten games played at home (where, of course, they're 19-3-1, the fewest home losses of any team in the East).

The Caps certainly have a knack for making games more difficult than they should be, so we'll take nothing for granted - not those games against the League's bottom feeders, not the Southeast Division crown and not the playoff spot - but as far as the schedule goes, the Caps now find that the most challenging portions are behind them.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green will be at the Washington Auto Show on February 6, which, of course, reminds us of this classic.... Some Caps spent the All-Star break in Florida. Others in Sweden. To each his own.... Lastly, I've finally gotten around to updating the "Home Team Links" sidebar blog roll of Caps blogs (latest add: Capitals for Kids), but if you don't see yours on there, please let me know.