Brace yourself, Caps fans.
Winter is behind us. Warmer weather awaits us. And, with a little luck …
When the sun rises on Friday the Caps could be holding a playoff spot for the first time since Jan. 18.
Here’s what needs to happen before the clock strikes 1 a.m.
The Columbus Blue Jackets, who are holding the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings with 74 points, will need to lose in Montreal [7:30 p.m.] in regulation or overtime …
And the Caps will need to beat the Kings in Los Angeles [10:30 p.m., CSN].
Simple as that. Blue Jackets lose. Caps win. Wild card spot.
Of course, a Detroit Red Wings loss in Pittsburgh to the Penguins [7:30] would help the Capitals as well. If the Red Wings beat the Penguins and the Blue Jackets and Caps lose in regulation, the Red Wings would grab the final wildcard spot.
The Red Wings are one point behind the Caps and Blue Jackets with 73 points. But, like the Blue Jackets, they have two games in hand on the Caps, who have 12 games remaining in their regular season.
The Caps are one of five NHL teams to have made the playoffs in each of the past six seasons. The Red Wings lead the field with 22 straight post-season appearances, followed by San Jose [nine], Pittsburgh [seven], and the Caps and Bruins [six].
Since you must be curious, here is the remaining schedules of the Caps, Red Wings and Blue Jackets. Predict away:
BLUE JACKETS [14 games]
At NY Islanders
RED WINGS [14 games]
at St. Louis
CAPITALS [12 games]
at Los Angeles
at San Jose
at New Jersey
at NY Islanders
at St. Louis