With 15 games remaining in the regular season and the Caps holding a 19-point lead in the Eastern Conference standings, it’s beginning to look like the Caps will face one of three opponents in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
According to hockeyviz.com, the Caps have a 27 percent chance of facing the Philadelphia Flyers, a 22 percent chance of facing the Pittsburgh Penguins and an 18 percent chance of facing the Detroit Red Wings.
Which team would you like to see the Caps face? Let’s take a quick look at each possible opponent.
FLYERS (75 points, 30 ROWs, 16 games remaining)
Philly has been on a tear lately, winning six of their last seven games, including back-to-back victories over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Goaltender Michal Neuvirth won the first three games of that run and Steve Mason has taken the last three.
Where they rank: The Flyers rank 21st in the NHL in goals per game (2.55) and 14th in goals against per game (2.56). They rank 14th on the power play (18.9 percent) and 21st on the penalty kill (79.8 percent).
Season series: The Caps are 2-0-1 against the Flyers this season with one game remaining on March 30 in Philly. They last met in the playoffs in 2008 when the Flyers eliminated the Caps in overtime of Game 7 in Round 1.
Probable goaltender: Take your pick. Steve Mason (16-15-7, 2.56, .916, 4 shutouts) or Michal Neuvirth (16-8-4, 2.29, .925, 3 shutouts).
PENGUINS (78 points, 33 ROWs, 15 games remaining)
The Penguins have gone 3-3-0 in their last six games and saw Evgeni Malkin leave Friday night’s game with a possible arm injury. Forwards Eric Fehr and Carl Hagelin returned from injuries in Friday’s win over the Blue Jackets.
Where they rank: The Pens rank 11th in the NHL in goals per game (2.70) and 10th in goals against per game (2.48). They’re 17th on the power play (18.3) and sixth on the penalty kill (83.7).
Season series: The Caps are 2-1-0 against the Penguins this season with two games remaining on March 20 in Pittsburgh and April 7 at Verizon Center. The Caps and Pens last met in the playoffs in 2009 when the Penguins eliminated the Caps in Game 7 in Round 2.
Probable goaltender: Marc-Andre Fleury (28-16-6, 2.34, .922, 5 shutouts)
RED WINGS (77 points, 31 ROWs, 15 games remaining)
The Red Wings snapped a three-game losing streak with a win over Winnipeg Thursday night and face the Rangers at home today.
Where they rank: Detroit ranks 22nd in goals per game (2.51) and 16th in goals against per game (2.60). They rank 24th on the power play (17.1) and 18th on the penalty kill (80.7).
Season series: The Caps went 2-1-0 against the Red Wings this season. All three games were decided by one goal, with the Caps winning once in overtime once in a shootout and suffering a 1-0 loss in Detroit, thanks to a 37-save effort by goaltender Petr Mrazek. The Caps last faced the Red Wings in the playoffs in 1998 when they were swept from the Stanley Cup Final.
Probable goaltender: Petr Mrazek (25-13-6, 2.20, .924, 4 shutouts)
MORE CAPITALS: Capitals closing in on clinching playoff berth