Will the Washington Capitals make the 2012 playoffs? What was once a question some of us would have found ludicrous is becoming more and more real as every game of the 2011 - 2012 NHL season becomes a "postgamer." Overall this season the Capitals are now 28 - 21 - 5 with 61 points and 54 games played (0.565). This morning the Capitals wake up to once again find themselves on the wrong side of "the bubble" in ninth place in the NHL's Eastern Conference. How does that happening? Well it's pretty simple actually so far this season the Capitals are 19 - 7 - 2 (0.714) at Verizon Center and only 9 - 14 - 3 (0.403) on the road. The Capitals road record is one of the worst in the league this season; because of their lack of victory and points on the road, the Caps find themselves with a record that is only slightly over 0.500 whereas if the Caps were 0.500 on the road they would be waking up this morning with 66 points and leading the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division by 3 points (1.5 games) instead of trailing them by 3 points.
The bottom line is that for the Capitals to "get off the bubble) they need to play more consistently on the road. The last time this season the Caps had a good string of games on the road was in October. That's why on a month by month basis the Caps performance in this years regular season look like this:
October: 7-2-0 overall (0.778) and 2-2-0 (0.500) on the road;
November: 5-8-1 (0.393) overall and 2-5-0 (0.286) on the road;
December: 8-6-1 (0.567) overall and 3-3-1 (0.500) on the road;
January: 6-4-2 (0.583) overall and 1-3-2 (0.333) on the road;
so far in February: 2-2-1 (0.500) overall and 1-1-1 (0.500) on the road.
The Caps have just 28 games remaining to play of which 15 are on the road and 13 are at Verizon Center. To finish the season with the 95+ points I have and continue to forecast it will take to make sure a team in the Eastern Conference makes the playoffs the Caps need another 34 points; so overall they will need to up their game and play 0.607 hockey. That means they need to continue to play as tough as ever here in DC and play at least 0.550 on the road. If they do that they will finish the season with between 95 and 98 points. That should put them into the playoffs regardless of what either Florida or Winnipeg do the rest of the way until April.
The best place and way to start that journey is to play the Rangers hard and bring 2 points home from MSG this afternoon on the NHL on NBC.
LETS GO CAPS!!!