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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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Capitals vs. Panthers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Capitals vs. Panthers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals (3-2-1, 7pts) are coming off of an overtime thriller at home over the Rangers thanks to Matt Niskanen's crafty timing.

Through the first six games of the season, Washington is undefeated on Wednesdays, yet has failed to win consecutive games. The Caps hope to change that trend Friday night at home vs. the Florida Panthers (0-2-2, 2pts).

The Panthers have yet to win a game this season, with each of the four games being decided by just one goal. The Panthers have no problem scoring, netting at least five goals in two of the first four games, but have failed to seal the deal. This is where the defending Stanley Cup champions will need to capitalize.

Only the Maple Leafs (33) and Hurricanes (33) have scored times more than the Capitals (24). Washington has a clear advantage in firepower. The biggest key to victory is keeping the space in front of Braden Holtby clean as a whistle. If the Caps control their goalmouth, they should have no issues dispatching the Panthers.

Here is everything you need to know about the Friday night game, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington. 

CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

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

When: Friday, October 19, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: Watch Capitals vs. Panthers on the NBC Sports Washington live stream page and the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS-PANTHERS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps FaceOff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: NHL: Florida Panthers at Capitals 
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: Travis Boyd (OUT, IR), Tom Wilson (OUT, Suspension)

Panthers: Michael Haley (OUT, Leave of Absence), Roberto Luongo (OUT, MCL injury), Mike Matheson (OUT, Suspension) 

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Evgenii Dadonov, W, Panthers: Dadonov is leading the Panthers this season with two goals and two assists on the season.

John Carlson, D, Capitals: Carlson had a heck of a game vs. the Rangers Wednesday night with a goal and two assists. The Capitals practiced faceoffs in practice leading up to Wednesday night's game and all of the practice paid off with Carlson's goal coming right off the faceoff from Backstrom. 

CAPITALS vs. PANTHERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 123

All-Time Series Record: 64-50-9

Playoff Record: N/A

Last Meeting: Panthers beat Capitals 3-2 (2/22/2018)

Last 10 Meetings: Tied 5-5 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

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What’s next for Capitals' Tom Wilson?

What’s next for Capitals' Tom Wilson?

On Thursday, Tom Wilson appealed his 20-game suspension to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. So what happens now?

Wilson was suspended 20-games for a hit he delivered to St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in the preseason. The NHLPA filed an appeal on Wilson’s behalf which led to his hearing on Thursday.

There is no specific timeline on when Bettman will issue a decision so for now, Wilson will have to wait.

When a decision is reached, he will have two options of how to proceed. First, he can accept the commissioner’s decision and serve whatever suspension remains. As of Thursday, he has currently served six games out of the original 20-game suspension.

Wilson also has the option of a second appeal. For suspensions of six games or more, a player can file a subsequent appeal to a neutral arbitrator. The arbitrator is given authority to issue a ruling based on whether the league’s finding of a violation of the rules and the penalty imposed were both supported by substantial evidence, meaning both the hit itself and the length of suspension will be reviewed.

This can be a lengthy process.

The most recent example of a player appealing to a neutral arbitrator is Nashville’s Austin Watson. He was suspended 27 games by the NHL on Sept. 12 for domestic assault. On Oct. 12 an arbitrator reduced the suspension to 18 games.

Given the serious nature of domestic assault, it should be noted that Wilson and Watson’s respective transgressions are in no way comparable. This example is used merely to illustrate how long the process can take.

Another example is that of Dennis Wideman who was suspended 20 games in 2016 for hitting and injuring a referee. His suspension was ultimately reduced to 10 games by an arbitrator, but by that time he had already served 19 games.

Wilson will remain suspended throughout the appeals process.

Obviously he would like to return to the ice as quickly as possible, but even if his appeal drags out and Wilson is forced to sit for most or all of those 20 games, he still can recoup some of the money he will forfeit from this suspension (over $1.2 million) which will make the arbitrator’s decision still relevant for him personally.

Should Wilson serve the full 20-game suspension, he will be eligible to return to play on Nov. 21 when the Caps host the Chicago Blackhawks.

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