Two weeks ago, Washington appeared to be a virtual lock for home-ice advantage for the Stanley Cup playoffs. With recent developments, the Capitals might not even win their division.
Washington suffered a four-game losing streak and its .500 record in their past 10 games has brought Pittsburgh and Columbus to within a few points of the Caps in the Metropolitan Division, with each on a 7-2-1 run as of March 15. This adds a great deal of intrigue for those following the NHL odds as the regular season heads towards the finish line. In the Atlantic Division, Ottawa is right on the heels of Montreal for the lead, with Boston trying to make a late move and rise above third place.
In the wild-card chase, the New York Rangers are seemingly all but in and would have to have a monumental collapse to miss the postseason. The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay are next, but right now it appears advantage to the Lightning with 7-1-1 spurt. The Islanders are hanging in with recent 5-4-1 record, but for those making NHL picks, the Isles have among the toughest schedules remaining in the East. With Florida floundering, Toronto at this time is the only other wild card contender.
Check back Saturday when we look at the Western Conference race.