Point by point, the Capitals are closing in on accomplishing their first and most important mission of the regular season – clinching a playoff spot. And it could come earlier than it has in team history.
With 45 regulation/ overtime wins (ROW) and 103 points, the Capitals’ magic number for clinching a playoff berth is five and could be reduced to two if the Philadelphia Flyers lose in regulation to the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight.
The Flyers (31-23-11, 73 points) sit in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the eighth-place Penguins and four behind the seventh-place Red Wings.
If the Flyers won each of their final 17 games in regulation or overtime, they would finish with 46 ROWs (one more than the Caps have now) and 107 points. But if the Flyers lose in regulation tonight, they could finish with no more than 45 ROWs and 105 points.
Since the Caps already have 45 ROWs and own the first tiebreaker with a 2-0-1 record against the Flyers this season with one game remaining between the two teams, the Caps could clinch a playoff berth IF the Flyers lose in regulation to the Lightning tonight AND the Caps win in regulation or overtime against the Sharks in San Jose on Saturday night.
When the Caps clinch, it will be their second straight berth in the playoffs and their eighth appearance in nine years.
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