NHL Playoff Format Explained: Where do Capitals stand?

Who would the Capitals play in round one?
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals / Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness is a time where you survive and advance. But in the NHL, March Madness only begins after the chaos of the trade deadline. Once the buzzer sounds all teams are set. In the case of the Washington Capitals, they sold but didn't sell off. And that decision has paid off especially when you look at the standings after the win over Detroit last night.

Before we get into opponent scanrios for the Caps lets explain the playoff format for both those new to the game and as a refresher course for those who know it.

The top 3 teams from each of the NHL's four divisions, separated by Easern and Western Conferernce get in. There are also two wild cards in each conference bringing the total to four. In the case of the Caps, they're two points ahead of the Red Wings for that second wild card spot.

That would mean the Caps would play the number one seed in the East which right now is looking like ex bench boss Peter Laviolette and the New York Rangers. Boy what a series that would be?

Other scenarios include the Boston Bruins, who had a 3-1 series lead last year in the first round but lost (no harm by Halak in the making of that collapse) or the Florida Panthers which would be a rematch of the six game defeat of 2022's first round.

The Caps are also a point back of the Flyers with a game in hand. So technically the Caps could snag third in the metro which gets them a three seed vs two matchup but as we've learned in the madness that is the Stanley Cup playoffs, you throw seeds and records and home ice advantage out the door.

The Caps could potentially see the Carolina Hurricanes depending on what happens at the top of that Metro Division. That is also an intiriguing rematch from 2019 and if someone told us Evgeny Kuznetsov would be playing for the Hurricanes in a rematch five years later, well I would've thought you were crazy.

But that's exactly what the beauty of playoff hockey is, the craziness of it. We're almost to the finish line of punching a ticket to the big dance. Can the Caps do it?