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Eastern Conference playoff field is set thanks to Capitals clinching

NHL Playoffs

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals waits for a pass during a game against the Dallas Stars at Capital One Arena on March 20, 2022 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals did not play on Sunday, but they were still able to officially punch their ticket for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs thanks to the New York Islanders’ 4-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That loss by the Islanders secured the Capitals’ playoff spot, making it the eighth consecutive season they have made the playoffs and the 14th time over the past 15 years. The only year during that stretch that they missed was the 2013-14 season when they still finished with 90 points, narrowly missing out on a playoff spot.

Their eight-year streak is currently the second longest in the NHL, trailing only the Pittsburgh Penguins who have made the playoffs in 16 consecutive seasons.

The noteworthy thing about the Capitals clinching on Sunday is that even though there are still two weeks remaining in the regular season, all eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference are now set.

Florida, Carolina, Toronto, Tampa Bay, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Boston, and Washington will be the Eastern Conference playoff field, with the only thing remaining to be determined is seeding and the First Round matchups. Florida seems secure at the top team in the Atlantic Division, while Toronto and Tampa Bay look like solid bets to meet in the 2-3 matchup of that division, leaving Boston as a likely Wild Card team.

The Metropolitan Division remains a little more undecided. The Hurricanes and Rangers are currently tied for the top spot in the division with 104 points, while Pittsburgh has a three-point lead over Washington for the third place spot with the Capitals having two games in hand.

There are currently only four spots (Colorado, St. Louis, Minnesota, and Calgary) in the Western Conference that are currently clinched.