WASHINGTON DC - FEBRUARY 25: Jason Chimera #25 of the Washington Capitals and Michael Sauer #38 of the New York Rangers fight during the first period at the Verizon Center on February 25 2011 in Washington DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

NHL Playoff Picture: Hurricanes Lose To Lightning, Caps Will Face Rangers In First Round

The Rangers' win coupled with the Hurricanes' loss has given the Caps their first round opponent. The top-seeded Caps will face the eighth-seeded Rangers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

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NHL Playoff Picture: Caps Will Face Rangers In First Round

The Washington Capitals and New York Rangers will meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in three years.

Entering Saturday, the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference had yet to be set. The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes each had a game to decide who would make it and who would watch it. The Rangers started the day with a big 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils, but did not control their destiny. If the Hurricanes defeated the Tampa Bay Ligntning, Carolina would make it. Yet, that didn't happen as the Lightning dominated throughout in a 6-2 win.

The Caps and Rangers last met in 2009. The seventh-seeded Rangers would jump out to a 3-1 series lead, but the Caps would win three straight to defeat them in seven games. The Caps would eventually lose in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins.

Washington and New York have met in the playoffs five times before (1986, 1990, 1991, 1994, 2009) with the Caps winning three of them.

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NHL Playoff Pictures: Capitals Win Eastern Conference Title

 With the Philadelphia Flyers losing to the Buffalo Sabres in overtime Friday night, the Washington Capitals have clinched their second consecutive Eastern Conference title.

Thomas Vanek scored for the Sabres with just 1:16 gone in the overtime period to give Buffalo a 4-3 win and officially drop the Flyers to fourth place as the Pittsburgh Penguins surpassed them in the standings. The Flyers could have won the Eastern Conference title with wins in their final two games, but that honor will now be seized by the Capitals once again.

The battle for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference rages on as the Carolina Hurricanes are now tied with the New York Rangers at 91 points. The Hurricanes earned a 6-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers Friday night and finish their season Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But their playoff fate could be decided earlier in the day as the Rangers face the New Jersey Devils at 12:30 PM.

New York holds a significant goal differential lead over Carolina, and would face the Eastern Conference's top seed in the first round if they should win.

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NHL Playoff Picture: Capitals Can Clinch Top Seed In East With A Win

The Capitals beat the lowly Florida Panthers 5-2 last night, and now stand just one victory (against these same Panthers) from clinching the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

They now have 107 points, which gives them a four point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Capitals can also clinch the Conference crown if the Flyers lose either one of their remaining two games against the Islanders or the Sabres. Even if the Capitals lose in a shootout to the Panthers, they will still get one more point, and clinch the conference. If they lose outright to the Panthers and the Flyers sweep their last two games of the year, then they will be tied at 207 points, and it will come down to a tiebreaker; which the Flyers would likely win based on goal differential.

But we don't need to worry about all those contingency plans. For the Caps, just win the next game, and you have home-ice advantage throughout the Easter Conference Playoffs. It's that easy.

For more on the Capitals, check out Japers' Rink.

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NHL Playoff Picture: Capitals Now Control Their Own Destiny In The East

The Capitals and Flyers have been jostling for playoff position for the last few weeks now, with the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference on the line. After last night's results, the Capitals have the upper hand in that battle.

The Caps beat the Maple Leafs 3-2 in a shootout last night, while the Flyers fell to the Senators 5-2 in Ottawa. The Caps now hold a 105-103 lead in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have two games left, so the Capitals control their own destiny in the Conference. If they win out, the top seed is theirs.

They have an advantage over the Flyers in this race because the Caps' last two games come against the Florida Panthers, the worst team in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers will be the Islanders and the Sabres. Neither of those teams are exactly world-beaters, but they should put up a little bit tougher of a fight than the Panthers.

For more on the Capitals, check out Japers' Rink.

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Mike Knuble, Marcus Johansson Carrying High-Flying Capitals Into NHL Playoffs

As the Capitals make their final push to the NHL Playoffs, it's a grizzly veteran and a hotshot youngster that are leading the way.

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NHL Playoffs: How The Playoff Picture Looks Today

The NHL Playoffs are just over a week away, and the picture gets a little bit clearer every day. Let's take a look at the teams currently in the playoffs, who they have left on the schedule, and who they would play if the Playoffs started today.

Philadelphia Flyers - 103 pts.

Games Left: Senators, Sabres, Islanders

Slated To Play: Sabres

Washington Capitals - 103 pts.

Games Left: Maple Leafs, Panthers (2)

Slated To Play: New York Rangers

Pittsburgh Penguins - 100 pts.

Games Left: Devils, Islanders, Thrashers

Slated To Play: Canadiens

Boston Bruins - 99 pts.

Games Left: Islanders, Senators, Devils

Slated To Play: Lightning

Tampa Bay Lightning - 99 pts.

Games Left: Sabres, Panthers, Hurricane

Slated To Play: Bruins

Montreal Canadiens - 91 pts.

Games Left: Blackhawks, Senators, Maple Leafs

Slated To Play: Penguins

New York Rangers - 91 pts.

Games Left: Thrashers, Devils

Slated To Play: Capitals

Buffalo Sabres - 90 pts.

Games Left: Lightning, Flyers, Blue Jackets

Slated To Play: Flyers

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NHL Playoff Picture: Capitals In First Place In Eastern Conference As Season Winds Down

The Capitals only have three more games left in the regular season, and the top seed in the Eastern Conference will be on the line. As of right now, they are tied at 103 points with the Philadelphia Flyers for first place in the Conference. The Boston Bruins are just four points back, but the top two teams likely can't be caught.

The schedules for the Flyers and the Capitals are both pretty easy over the final three games. The Caps will play the Maple Leafs, the tenth-best team in the Conference, on Tuesday before back-to-back games against the Eastern Conference bottom-feeding Florida Panthers. The Flyers will play the Senators, Sabres and Islanders, with only Buffalo being a playoff team. So if you had to pick one of the teams' schedules, it would probably be the Capitals.

If the Capitals get the top seed in the conference, it will be the second year in a row that they enter the playoffs with home-ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs. Let's hope that it goes a little bit better this time around.

For more on the Capitals, check out or Caps blog Japers' Rink.

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NHL Playoff Picture: Capitals Are Second In The East With Six Games Left

The NHL regular season is coming to a close, so it is not to early to look ahead to the playoffs and see what road the Capitals might have to take to the Stanley Cup Finals.

As of right now, the Capitals are second in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers. They don't play the Flyers anymore this regular season, but they wrap up the season with two games against the East's worst team, the Florida Panthers. That should be a pretty good chance for them to make up some ground at the last minute.

The current third seed in the Eastern Conference is the Boston Bruins, and they are just four points back of the Caps. If the Caps lose a few games down the stretch, they have just as good a chance of sliding down to third as they do of climbing up to first.

If the playoffs started today, the Capitals would face the New York Rangers in the first round, and then likely the Bruins in the second. But the bottom of the Conference is even more jumbled than the top, so their first round opponent could change day to day.

As the regular season comes to a close and the playoff picture comes a little bit more into focus, we'll be keeping track of where the Capitals stand in this stream. Make sure to check out our Caps blog Japers' Rink for more on the Caps.

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