With Atlanta's loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last night, the Capitals officially captured their third consecutive Southeast Division title - and became the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff spot this season.
The Caps may know their plans come April 15 (and are all but assured the top spot in the conference), but there's still a month left in the regular season and many things yet to be sorted out - particularly at the bottom of the East. There are just ten points separating 6th place from 12th, with anywhere from 14 to 17 games left for the teams in the mix. And while plenty can change over the next month, the odds (try 69%) are on one of the Canadiens, Bruins, or Rangers drawing first round duties against the Caps.*
Here's how the three teams have done so far this season:
|PP Per Game||3.10||3.26||3.64|
|Times SH Per Game||3.99||3.45||3.99|
And here's how the Caps have matched up against each potential opponent on the campaign:
|PP Per Game||4.25||4.00||6.50|
|Times SH/ Game||3.50||5.50||5.00|
|Save Pct. Against||.898||.867||.868|
|Last Game||OTL 6-5||W 4-1||W 2-0|
*Note: Atlanta and Tampa Bay are also stastical possibilities; however, neither has demonstrated that they are in the position for a significant push to finish out the season and have both slumped recently.
Given what we know about each team - the strengths, the weaknesses and how the Caps match up against each - who would you want the Caps to open the postseason against?