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Predicting the Capitals First-Round Opponent

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A quick and dirty look at the remaining schedule and all of the possible scenarios for that last Wild Card spot

Toronto Maple Leafs v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Last night, a couple of teams could have done us all a lot of good and just cleared up the playoff picture once and for all. Instead, it’s somehow gotten even murkier than it was, and the battle for the final Wild Card spot - and a first-round date with the Caps - will be hot and heavy this weekend as teams wrap up their regular-season slate.

So... what does that race look like? As of right now, it’s down to five teams, in current standings order: Ottawa, Boston, Toronto, the Islanders and Tampa Bay (and should Tampa lose to Montreal tonight in any fashion, the field goes down to four).

Here’s a look at the remaining schedules for those five teams:

The Road Ahead

TEAM GR PTS PTS POSSIBLE ROW GAME(S)
TEAM GR PTS PTS POSSIBLE ROW GAME(S)
OTT 2 96 100 37 Sat vs. NYR, Sun @ NYI
BOS 1 95 97 42 Sat vs. WSH
TOR 2 93 97 38 Sat vs. PIT, Sun vs. CBJ
NYI 2 90 94 37 Sat @ NJD, Sun vs. OTT
TBL 2 90 94 36 Fri @ MTL, Sun vs. BUF

As things currently stand, it looks like the Caps and Maple Leafs are hurtling towards a first-round matchup; Sportsclubstats.com puts the likelihood at about 66%, while Hockeyviz.com’s Micah Blake McCurdy has it closer to 70%... but neither one is at 100%. And with two games remaining for most of the teams and a number of possible combinations and scenarios playing out, there are a lot of unknowns surrounding who the Caps will face in the playoffs (including some which the Caps can potentially control with their game tomorrow in Boston).

With that in mind, here is (what we hope but do not guarantee is) a comprehensive look at what each team needs to do to finish in each remaining spot - and if you have a preference for the Caps’ opponent, perhaps a guide for your rooting interests over the next three days.

Enjoy!

OTTAWA

If OTT earns… Pts Finish 2nd Finish 3rd Finish 2nd WC
If OTT earns… Pts Finish 2nd Finish 3rd Finish 2nd WC
2+ points 98+ Guaranteed N/A N/A
1 point 97 if BOS and TOR lose out if BOS wins in any fashion and TOR gets fewer than 4 points or gets 4 points w/ at least one SO BOS wins in any fashion, TOR gets 4 points (no SO)
0 points 96 if BOS loses in reg and TOR loses both games in any fashion if BOS gets at least 1 point and TOR gets fewer than 3 points or gets 3 points w/ at least one SOW -OR- BOS loses in reg and TOR gets at least 3 points BOS gets at least one point and TOR gets at least 3 points (no SO)

BOSTON

If BOS earns… Pts Finish 2nd Finish 3rd Finish 2nd WC
If BOS earns… Pts Finish 2nd Finish 3rd Finish 2nd WC
2 points 97 if OTT gets no more than 1 point if OTT gets at least 2 points N/A
1 point 96 OTT loses both games in regulation and TOR earns no more than 3 points if OTT gets at least 2 points and TOR earns no more than 3 points if OTT gets at least 2 points and TOR wins out
0 points 95 N/A if TOR gets no more than 2 points if TOR gets at least 3 points

TORONTO

If TOR earns… Pts Finish 2nd Finish 3rd Finish 2nd WC
If TOR earns… Pts Finish 2nd Finish 3rd Finish 2nd WC
4 points 97 OTT gets no more than 1 point and BOS loses in any fashion OTT gets at least two points and BOS loses in any fashion -OR- OTT gets no more than 1 point and BOS wins in any fashion OTT gets at least two points and BOS wins
3 points 96 OTT and BOS both lose out in regulation OTT gets at least one point and BOS loses in regulation -OR - OTT gets no points and BOS wins in any fashion OTT and BOS both get at least one point
2 points 95 N/A N/A Guaranteed
1 point 94 N/A N/A NYI gets no more than 3 points or gets 2 SO wins
0 points 93 N/A N/A NYI gets no more than 3 points w/ one SOW, TBL gets no more than 3 points in any fashion

NY ISLANDERS

If NYI earns… Pts Finish 2nd WC
If NYI earns… Pts Finish 2nd WC
4 points 94 if at least one win is ROW, TOR gets no more than one point and TBL gets no more than 3 points
3 points 93 if the win is ROW, TOR gets 0 points and TBL gets no more than 2 points
2 points 92 N/A
1 point 91 N/A
0 points 90 N/A

TAMPA BAY

If TBL earns… Pts Finish 2nd WC
If TBL earns… Pts Finish 2nd WC
4 points 94 if both wins are ROW, TOR gets 0 points and NYI gets no more than 3 points (or one SOW and one ROW) ORif one win is ROW and one SO, TOR gets 0 points and NYI gets no more than 3 points (or 2 SO wins)
3 points 93 N/A
2 points 92 N/A
1 point 91 N/A
0 points 90 N/A