Pivotal eight games left for Capitals

Buckle up.

Dylan Strome, Washington Capitals
Dylan Strome, Washington Capitals / Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports

If the Washington Capitals want to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs, they have to play the complete opposite of how they did last night against the Buffalo Sabres. As the old saying goes, winning ain't easy. That's certainly the case in the hardest league in sports to win.

As things stand the Caps are tied with the Detroit Red Wings for that second and final wild card spot with 82 points each. The Caps currenlty occupy that second spot thanks in large part to their home ice win over the Red Wings last Tuesday.

In front of the Caps is the Philadelphia Flyers and one point separates each team for third in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps will see the Flyers on Tuesday the 16th for the regular season finale. That's up in Philly one day after a home finale with the Boston Bruins.

That's the backend of it. Here's the front and the task at hand. The Caps have a huge game Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. How huge? The Penguins trail the fourth place New York Islanders by two pints but they trail both the Caps and the Red Wings by three points.

A loss to the Penguins puts them back in the race. A win puts Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and company on thin ice. Following that is a Friday night road matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes, an opponent the Caps could see in the first round. A team that has the Caps number statisticially even though the Caps can get the overtime wins.

The Penguins will be hungry for revenge eespecially after the Caps dealt them two losses on home ice with both of them coming on national TV. The Penguins got their opening night win 4-0.

Following that back to back madness is a home game Sunday evening against the Ottawa Senators where the Caps will honor defenseman John Carlson for 1,000 games. You can learn more here.

Following that is another game with the Red Wings that COULD determine the wild card. On the 11th it's up in Buffalo again. On April 13th the Tampa Bay Lightning come to town.

Either way it's a big month ahead and another excitiing chapter to the Pens vs. Caps rivalry is coming tomorrow night.