Saturday, January 14, 2012

Caps Edge To The Positive Side Of The Bubble While FlaCats Continue to Stumble

When I last posted a blog post two weeks ago I mentioned the Capitals needed to rev things up and drive towards at least a 95 point season to be confident of making the playoffs. So how's that looking for us Caps fans now two weeks later? Let's take a look in at the Caps record since the New Year, that would be 3-2-0 (0.600), how about their last 10 games, that would be 6-3-1 (0.650). So far so good though they didn't put anything in the bank and we all had high hopes they would win at least one of two during their last swing out west and they did not do so.

So while things are looking better for the Capitals and they are at times looking like the team we all thought they could be at the beginning of this season (congratulations to Troy Brouwer on the hat trick and to Alexander Ovechkin for "getting his mojo back" and scoring 6 goals in the past 10 games), they aren't "out of the woods" yet. That said when you look at the Capitals recent record as well as comparing them to their opponents for the remaining schedule you can see a clear path to 95+ points, that really wasn't the way things were just 3 weeks ago. So here's another take on things and some musings.

Since Thanksgiving the Caps and their Southeast Division rivals have records as follow:

Overall Last 10 Games Last 5 Games
Florida: 9-8-5 (0.523) 3-5-2 (0.400) 2-2-1 (0.550) Caps play 4 more times (2 Home, 2 Away)
Washington: 11-10-1 (0.500) 6-3-1 (0.650) 3-2-0 (0.600) 48 pts in 42 Games Played (0.571)
Winnipeg: 13-9-1 (0.587) 5-5-0 (0.500) 2-3-0 (0.400) Caps play 3 more times (1 Home, 2 Away)
Tampa Bay: 8-13-2 (0.391) 3-5-2 (0.400) 0-4-1 (0.050) Caps play 4 more times (1 Home, 3 Away)
Carolina: 7-12-3 (0.386) 5-4-1 (0.550) 2-2-1 (0.550) Caps play 4 more times (2 Home, 2 Away).

The other Eastern Conference "Bubble Teams" records since Thanksgiving:
Overall Last 10 Games Last 5 Games
New Jersey: 13-9-1 (0.587) 6-3-1 (0.650) 3-2-0 (0.600) Caps play 1 more time at home
Toronto: 10-8-3 (0.548) 6-3-1 (0.650) 4-1-0 (0.800) Caps play 2 more times (1 Home, 1 Away)
Pittsburgh: 10-11-0 (0.476) 4-6-0 (0.400) 1-4-0 (0.200) Caps play 1 more time at Pittsburgh
Buffalo: 7-11-4 (0.409) 3-5-2 (0.400) 2-2-1 (0.500) Caps play 1 more time at home.

Other eastern conference foes on the Caps remaining schedule:
Montreal 4 games (2 home, 2 away)
Boston 4 games (2 home, 2 away)
Islanders 3 games (2 home, 1 away)
Rangers 2 games (2 away)
Flyers 2 games (1 home, 1 away)
Islanders 3 games (2 home, 1 away)
Ottawa 1 game (away)

Western conference foes the Caps will play in their last 40 games of the season:
San Jose 1 game (home)
Chicago 1 game (away)
Detroit 1 game (away)
Minnesota 1 game (home)

The Caps have 48 points as of today and 40 games remaining. To finish with 95 points they need to play 0.588 hockey the rest of the way and win 47 of 80 available points. Of their remaining 40 games they have an even split of 20 home games and 20 away games and they only have 4 games against Western Conference teams. So after reviewing the Caps recent results as well as the remaining schedule I'm now projecting the Caps to finish with a total of between 94 and 98 points, and they should make the playoffs. If Winnipeg and Florida continue on their recent trajectories, then it could be a three way battle for the Southeast Division Championship until the end of the season. It would also mean the Caps would indeed need 95+ points to make the playoffs and they could still fall off the backside of the "bubble" if they don't win at least a couple of "tough" road games as well finding a way to grab at least 8 points in their 8 games against the Bruins, Flyers and Rangers. It also means their remaining 7 games against the Jets and Panthers have added importance.

Just thinking it sure would be nice to start that quest for those 47+ points with an eight game winning streak and a win against the Bruins who are on a different level from the rest of the league right now.


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