Over the last few years, the Washington Capitals haven't had to play the role of spoiler. Yet, Tuesday against the Toronto Maple Leafs, they can do just that by eliminating the Leafs from playoff contention as well as dashing the hopes of a Southeast Division championship for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With a win Tuesday, the Caps can mathematically eliminate the Leafs from postseason contention and clinch their fourth consecutive Southeast Division title. A Lightning loss to the Buffalo Sabres would also clinch the division for Washington. First place in the Eastern Conference is also at stake. A win and either a regulation loss or overtime loss for the Philadelphia Flyers would put Washington back on top of the East. A overtime loss and a Flyers regulation loss would also help.
The Caps' defensive corps has been shorthanded for most of the season as MIke Green, Tom Poti and now Dennis Wideman are all suffering from numerous injuries. Green and Poti will not travel to Toronto Tuesday, but Green did not rule out the possibility of a return in Washington's final two games against the Florida Panthers.
The forwards aren't shielded from injuries, either. Alexander Semin took a maintenance day Monday and head coach Bruce Boudreau said that there might be a chance that Semin might miss one of the remaining three games.