With a huge tilt tonight between the Caps and Jets (which I will be attending), I sat down to try to figure out a scenario where the Caps and the Pens could end up meeting in round 1. Not only would this be a nightmare scenario for me personally (too emotional), but the Caps, led by a fully juvenated Alex Ovechkin, are potentially the biggest threat to upset the Pens in Round 1.
SportsClubStats is currently giving the Caps about a 3.4% chance of finishing with the #8 seed. I gave myself a similar 3.4% chance of actually making this post meaningful and failed miserably, as you'll see.
There are 8 possible outcomes in any NHL game involving the Caps: 1) Caps win in regulation; 2) Caps win in OT; 3) Caps win in shootout; 4) Caps lose in regulation; 5) Caps lose in OT; 6) Caps lose in shootout; 7) I laugh maniacally at 4, 5, and 6, and 8) I pretend 1, 2, and 3 never happened. When you try to extrapolate these possibilities over 3 remaining games for the Caps, with 5 other teams still in the mix, it becomes the following nonsense, which represents probably 10% of the possible outcomes. I tried.
Here's what you need to know.
If the Caps win tonight in regulation or overtime, they clinch the Southeast division and the #3 seed.
If the Caps win in a shootout, they'd eventually clinch their division if they either a) got a single point in either of their final two games (vs. OTT, vs. BOS); OR 2) Winnipeg did not win in regulation or overtime against Montreal on Thursday.
But if the Caps lose in a shootout AND get 0 points in their final two games AND Winnipeg wins in regulation or overtime on Thursday against Montreal, the Caps get the #8 seed if they finish 3rd out of these 4 teams -- WSH, NYI, NYR, OTT. The most likely way this would happen is if the Isles and Rangers finished with 55 or more points BUT Ottawa lost its final two games (vs. PHI, @BOS) after beating Washington in regulation on Thursday.
If the Caps lose in regulation tonight, good.
If they lose in regulation tonight AND they get 0 points in their final 3 games, they would get the #8 seed only if the Rangers also got no points in their final 3 games. Not likely.
If they lose in regulation tonight, but then earn 4 points against Ottawa and Boston, they get the #3 seed regardless of what Winnipeg does against Montreal.
If they lose in regulation tonight, then get three points against Ottawa and Boston with one of those wins coming in regulation or overtime, they get the #3 seed regardless of what Winnipeg does.
If they lose in regulation tonight, then get 3 points against Ottawa and Boston but do not win either game in regulation or overtime, Winnipeg clinches the SE if Winnipeg beats Montreal in regulation or overtime on Thursday. Then the 8 seed is really in play.
If the Caps lose in overtime tonight, they'd clinch the Southeast if they got more points in their final two games (OTT, BOS) than Winnipeg earned in its final game against Montreal (3 out of 4 points in their final two games clinches no matter what Winnipeg does against Montreal).
If Caps lose in a shootout tonight, there are literally a billion possibilities and really who cares anyway? Just miss the playoffs, please.Got it?