Can the Capitals make the playoffs?

Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Washington Capitals Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /

The Washington Capitals needed a win badly against the Buffalo Sabres to keep themselves in good position in the playoff hunt with 13 games to go. They got it in the shootout to leapfrog past them for fourth place in the Wild Card standings. They are tied with the Florida Panthers for third place with 73 points.

They trail the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins by five points, who occupy those two playoff spots currently. The Islanders have played in one more game than the Capitals. The Penguins have played in two less.

Here’s a list of the Capitals next 13 opponents to close out the regular season:

St. Louis Blues

Minnesota Wild

Columbus Blue Jackets

Chicago Blackhawks

Pittsburgh Penguins

New York Islanders

Tampa Bay Lightning

New York Rangers

Montreal Canadiens

Florida Panthers

New York Islanders

Boston Bruins

New Jersey Devils

So the Blues are pretty much out of the race. That’s not to say that’s a sure win since the Blues always play the Caps tough. Same deal with the Wild but they’re a much better team than the Blues are. Blue Jackets have the least points in the NHL so that’s a must win there.

The Blackhawks game is also a must win as they have the second lowest points in the Western Conference. The Penguins on Saturday night in front of an ABC national audience is also a must win since the Pens occupy the first wild card spot. As will their next game against the Islanders who are in second.

Those are games you have to win if you want any shot at the playoffs.

So I’m eyeing those four previous games I just mentioned as being critical to the direction of this season. Three of those are at home with the lone road game being at Pittsburgh.

After that they’ll travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Lightning. They’re third in the Atlantic and are always a tough opponent. Next up is the Rangers who are third in the Metropolitan Division. They just beat the Caps the other night. Never an easy game.

Then comes the Montreal Canadiens which is no excuse for a win since they’re the third worst team in the east. The Panthers game is obviously a must win since they’re neck and neck with the Caps in the wild card.

Islanders will be a big one as that game could decide the wild card standings once and for all. That is the scary part because if it does it would make those final two games meaningless.

More. Capitals rally to beat Sabres in shootout. light

Those last two games are against the league leading Bruins and the second place in the Metro Devils. Make the playoffs and you could play either the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils or Boston Bruins in the opening round. Fun!