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How did we do? Looking back at our Eastern Conference predictions

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How did we do? Looking back at our Eastern Conference predictions

The only media tradition people love more than predictions is seeing how wrong those predictions turn out to be. In the fall, Chuck Gormley and I predicted who would reach the playoffs and who would win the Cup. It's time to go back and see how we did.

This morning we started with the Western Conference. Now, let's check out the East.

Predicted playoff teams:

Metropolitan Division

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. New York Rangers

(See Chuck Gormley's full Metropolitan preview here)

Atlantic Division

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning
  2. Montreal Canadiens
  3. Detroit Red Wings

(See Chuck Gormley's full Atlantic preview here)

Wild card

  1. Columbus Blue Jackets
  2. New York Islanders

What we said:

"With T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams fortifying an explosive top-six forward group and Braden Holtby an emerging star between the pipes, the Caps look like a team with all the pieces to contend for the Stanley Cup."

"Former University of North Dakota head coach Dave Hakstol has no NHL experience and his adaptation to the pro game will determine whether he can take a top-heavy roster with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek into the playoffs. Truth is, there’s not enough talent on the blue line to get there."

"The Blue Jackets had a roster good enough to reach the playoffs last season, but they were destroyed by injuries. Now that roster is even better with the addition of Brandon Saad and, most importantly, they are healthy. They should be a playoff team this season."

(You can read the full preseason predictions of the Eastern Conference here)

How they actually finished:

Metropolitan Division

  1. Washington Capitals
  2. Pittsburgh Penguins
  3. New York Rangers

Atlantic Division

  1. Florida Panthers
  2. Tampa Bay Lightning
  3. Detroit Red Wings

Wild Card

  1. New York Islanders
  2. Philadelphia Flyers

Chuck Gormley correctly predicted the top three Metropolitan teams in the correct order. That's why he's the Capitals Insider, ladies and gentleman. Both Chuck and I were very high on Tampa Bay, but we never saw the defending conference champions assert themselves the way we expected. Even so, they still finished second in the division. One of the bigger surprises of the East is Philadelphia, who neither of us expected to be able to climb into a playoff spot in Hakstol's first season as coach. As for Columbus...there was a lot of hype about that team coming into the season. Even if you didn't expect them to be a playoff team, the utter collapse of the Blue Jackets at the start of the season caught everyone by surprise.

Preseason pick for Eastern Conference winner: Tampa Bay

What we said:

"I am all in on Tampa Bay. There is no other team in the NHL that can boast the same level of young talent as the Lightning."

With the loss of Steven Stamkos, the Lightning don't look like the conference contender they were expected to be. Sure, he could return if Tampa lasts long enough without him, a big ask considering he is their best player. Even if he does return, however, the Lightning have not returned to the same level of play we saw last year. It looks like a new team will claim the Prince of Wales Trophy this season.

MORE HOCKEY: Ovechkin not in NHL's top 5 for jersey sales this season

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Lightning will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Lightning game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Lightning
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Michal Kempney, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE