With the playoffs less than a month away, it's time to start looking at possible first round matchups.
With a 7-3 win over the New York Islanders, the Caps kept pace with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division race.
Here's a look at the first round matchups as they stand now:
1. Washington (87 points, 70 GP, 37 ROW)
W1. Columbus (81 points, 71 GP, 32 ROW)
2. Pittsburgh (87 points, 72 GP, 39 ROW)
3. Philadelphia (81 points, 71 GP, 33 ROW)
1. Tampa Bay (100 points, 70 GP, 42 ROW)
W2. New Jersey (80 points, 70 GP, 31 ROW)
2. Boston (96 points, 69 GP, 41 ROW)
3. Toronto (91 points, 71 GP, 35 ROW)
Still in the hunt:
Florida (77 points, 68 GP, 32 ROW)
Despite slumping in February and earning only two points on the California road trip, Washington still has the inside track on first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps are tied with Pittsburgh with 87 points and have two games in hand. A lot can change in 12 games, but for now, Washington looks like they are in good shape to keep that top spot.
The wild card, however, is very much in flux.
As of the time of writing, Columbus would be the matchup for the Caps. Washington certainly has had the Blue Jackets' number for much of the season going 3-1-0 in four games, though the most recent matchup was a 5-1 blowout loss for the Caps in Columbus. The Blue Jackets have also won six straight games and could very easily overtake the hot and cold Flyers in the coming days.
Remember when the division was a three-team race with the Flyers hot on the heels of Washington and Pittsburgh? Well, the seesaw that has been Philadelphia's season has now tipped once again with the Flyers losing seven of their last eight games. With Columbus, a New Jersey team that just beat Nashville and Vegas on the road and a Florida team that has won nine of its last 11 all chasing the Flyers, it certainly looks like Philadelphia is destined to slide into the wild card if they make the playoffs at all, something that is not a foregone conclusion.
The Blue Jackets may be the matchup now, but if things keep trending the way they are, Columbus seems likely to move up into third place with either the Devils or the Panthers taking the first wild card. Those are the two teams for Caps fans to watch in the coming days.
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