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First-Round Roulette: Determining the Capitals' First Round Opponent

Nothing's set until Game 82... but here are all of the ways it could play out.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Capitals have had their playoff seed set for roughly a billion years (or about a month, whatevs), but that certainly doesn't mean that the playoff picture is clear by any stretch. And while the Caps were busy falling behind, storming back and eventually losing 4-3 in overtime last night, all kinds of things were happening elsewhere to further skew what is already a pretty heated and at times confusing battle for the final two playoff spots in the East.

The Red Wings, needing just a win over the Bruins to clinch their 25th consecutive postseason date, did the opposite and kept Boston's playoff hopes alive in the process. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, the Flyers did exactly what the Caps were doing in DC: fell behind, stormed back, and eventually lost 4-3 in overtime.

The result? Well, take a look:

WC Standings 040716

The Red Wings and Bruins each have one game remaining tomorrow afternoon (Detroit takes on the Rangers and Boston faces Ottawa), while the Flyers have dates with the Penguins (Saturday afternoon) and Islanders (Sunday afternoon). The clinching scenarios for each team are floating around, and basically what this means for the Caps is that they - and by extension, we - may not know who they're going to play until the final day of the regular season.

There are a lot of potential outcomes here, all of them impacting the others in different ways... so let's take a crack at unraveling the different scenarios.

To play the Red Wings

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  • Scenario #1: If Detroit loses in regulation to New York...
    • Boston must beat the Senators in any fashion and Philadelphia must pick up no more than one of their remaining four points OR
    • Boston must lose in overtime or a shootout and Philadelphia must pick up no more than one of their remaining four points
  • Scenario #2: If Detroit loses in overtime/shootout to New York...
    • Boston must beat the Senators in any fashion and Philadelphia must pick up no more than two of their remaining four points
  • Scenario #3: If Detroit beats New York via the shootout...
    • Boston must beat the Senators in regulation or overtime and Philadelphia must lose at least one of their remaining two games in any fashion

To play the Bruins

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  • Scenario #1: If Boston loses in regulation to Ottawa...
    • Philadelphia can pick up no more than one of their remaining four points
  • Scenario #2: If Boston loses in overtime or a shootout to Ottawa...
    • Detroit must pick up at least one point and Philadelphia must pick up no more than two of their remaining four points
  • Scenario #3: If Boston beats Ottawa in a shootout...
    • Detroit must beat New York in any fashion and Philadelphia must pick up no more than three of their remaining four points
  • Scenario #4: If Boston beats Ottawa in regulation or overtime...
    • Detroit must beat New York in regulation or overtime and Philadelphia must pick up no more than three of their remaining four points

To play the Flyers

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
  • Scenario #1: If Philadelphia picks up two of their remaining four points...
    • Detroit must pick up at least one point in their final game and Boston must lose in regulation OR
    • Boston must pick up at least one point in their final game and Detroit must lose in regulation
  • Scenario #2: If Philadelphia picks up three of their remaining four points...
    • Detroit must win in any fashion and Boston must lose in any fashion OR
    • Detroit must lose in any fashion and Boston must win in any fashion

So... clear as mud, right? Happy scoreboard watching!