Time for Caps fans to change rooting interests

Time for Caps fans to change rooting interests
March 17, 2014, 11:15 am
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(Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports)

Talk about changing your rooting interests.

Entering the weekend, Capitals fans were forced to choose sides between cheering on the Penguins or Flyers, which is a lot like a 5-year-old choosing between peas and squash.

The Flyers, who entered the weekend clinging to the final wild card spot, swept the Metropolitan Division leaders with back-to-back wins, vaulting them into second place in the Metro Division with 77 points, one more than the third-place Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Caps have played two more games than Philly and Columbus, which make both teams difficult for the Caps to catch with just 13 games remaining.

[RELATED: Caps back in playoff hunt]

So now, the Caps must focus their sights on the Rangers and Red Wings, who cooperated nicely on Sunday with losses to the Sharks and Blackhawks, respectively.

As a result, the Caps woke up this morning in Anaheim with 74 points, one ahead of the 10th-place Red Wings and two behind the eighth-place Rangers, who hold the final wild card.

The Caps and Rangers each have played 69 games but the Rangers hold the first tiebreaker over the Caps with 32 regulation/overtime wins [ROW] to the Caps’ 24. In other words, the Caps would need to be three points better than the Rangers down the stretch to pass them in the standings.

The Red Wings have played two fewer games than the Caps, but the two teams are much closer in ROWs, with the Red Wings having 25 and the Caps’ 24.

When it comes to point-per game projections, the Rangers are on pace to finish the season with 91 points, while the Red Wings are on pace for 90, and the Caps are on pace for 88.

Assuming the Rangers and Red Wings continue at their current pace, the Caps’ magic number remains at 92 points to clinch a playoff spot for the seventh straight year. That’s 18 points in their final 13 games, which equates to an 8-3-2 record.

Can they do it?

Here’s a quick look at the remaining schedule for all three teams:

CAPITALS

at Anaheim

at Los Angeles

at San Jose

Los Angeles

Boston

At Nashville

Dallas

at New Jersey

at NY Islanders

at St. Louis

at Carolina

Chicago

Tampa Bay

RANGERS

at Ottawa

at Columbus

at New Jersey

Phoenix

Philadelphia

at Calgary

at Edmonton

at Vancouver

at Colorado

Ottawa

Carolina

Buffalo

at Montreal

RED WINGS

Toronto

Pittsburgh

at Minnesota

Minnesota

at Columbus

Montreal

at Toronto

Tampa Bay

Boston

Buffalo

at Montreal

at Buffalo

at Pittsburgh

Carolina

at St. Louis