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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Caps keep hold of first place

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USA Today Sports

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Caps keep hold of first place

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:

Metropolitan Division
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)

Atlantic Division
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)

RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-ISLANDERS

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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Capitals Faceoff podcast: Barry Trotz has his work cut out for him

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff podcast: Barry Trotz has his work cut out for him

Barry Trotz is now the head coach of the New York Islanders, a team that missed the playoffs and just lost their franchise player. So how does next season look on Long Island?

In the long summer months, the Capitals Faceoff Podcast will take a look at some of the Caps' competition next season. In this episode, it's the New York Islanders. Brian Compton of NHL.com joins Rob Carlin and Tarik El-Bashir to talk about what Trotz brings to Long Island and what's left to work with.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Monumental announces major improvements for in-game experience at Capitals and Wizards games

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USA TODAY Sports

Monumental announces major improvements for in-game experience at Capitals and Wizards games

Monumental Sports & Entertainment announced an overhauled in-game entertainment experience for the 2018-19 Wizards and Capitals seasons on Wednesday. 

These changes include a new DJ stage, new permanent 3D on ice/on court projection system, along with new Wizards and Capitals entertainment squads, as Capital One Arena undergoes $40 million in renovations.

“We are committed to putting on the best show possible for every fan who comes to a game at Capital One Arena,” said MSE President of Business Operations Jim Van Stone.  “So, as we upgrade the facilities at the Arena this summer, we are also upgrading all of our in-game entertainment to keep the experience fresh and on the cutting edge.”

“We’re excited about these new changes to our game entertainment experience,” said Hunter Lochmann, MSE Senior Vice President of Marketing.  “We work hard to create the best, most engaging entertainment experience in professional sports and we hope fans love this new, revamped energy.”

 

Some of the other improvement announced were:

  • Digital signage experience throughout the fully-renovated concourses that will pull fans into an exclusively all-Wizards or all-Capitals team experience each night highlighting player and team imagery on each concourse
  • Sponsored quadrants in the Arena where fans will experience concourse takeovers and can expect special offers and giveaways from sponsors
  • Olympia ice resurfacer bus: groups of fans will be able to take pre-game and intermission rides
  • Award-winning, chef-inspired dining experience featuring options from premiere chefs David Chang, Cat Cora and Alex McCoy
  • A transformed and modernized PwC Club offering some of the best sightlines in the Arena and new 100-level lounge, both featuring top-of-the-line comfort seating and exclusive food and beverage options so fans can gather in style during the games 
  • A new in-bowl broadcasting platform for NBC Sports Washington

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