After Thursday night, we know which eight Eastern Conference teams will square off for the Prince of Wales Trophy and a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals. Washington's 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers coupled with Buffalo's 2-1 loss in Philadelphia eliminated the Sabres and ensured that both Florida and Washington would have something to celebrate at the Verizon Center Thursday night.
So, as of Friday morning, here are the prospective playoff match-ups in the Eastern Conference:
No. 1 New York Rangers (109 points, Atlantic Division champion) vs. No. 8 Florida OR Ottawa OR Washington.
No. 2 Boston Bruins (100 points, Northeast Division champion) vs. No. 7 Ottawa OR Washington
No. 3 Florida OR Washington (Southeast Division champion) vs. No 6. New Jersey Devils (100 points)
As you can see, the Southeast Division title and the race for the No. 7 seed are the two dominoes left to fall. Washington, Florida and Ottawa all close their seasons on Saturday. The Senators play the Devils at 3 p.m., the Capitals play the Rangers at 6:30 p.m., and the Panthers host Carolina at 7:30 p.m.
Ottawa and Florida both are sitting on 92 points. The Capitals have 90 points, but hold the non-shootout win tiebreaker over both their competitors. Florida can not finish as the No. 7 seed, because they have the fewest non-shootout wins of the three. So, with that in mind:
- The Capitals Clinch The Southeast Division And The No. 3 Seed With: A win AND a Florida regulation loss.
- The Capitals Clinch The No. 7 Seed With: A win AND an Ottawa regulation loss AND a Florida win or overtime loss.
Barring the above outcomes, the Capitals will secure the No. 8 seed and a re-match of last year's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers.
For the latest on the Capitals, visit Japers Rink. For more on the Panthers, visit Litterbox Cats. For information on the Ottawa Senators, visit Silver Seven. For the latest news and notes from around the league, visit SB Nation's NHL hub.