The National Hockey League playoffs have started. Well, not really. The NHL playoffs officially get underway the week of April 8.
But Tuesday’s game between the Washington Capitals and the Buffalo Sabres was like a playoff game. The Caps and the Sabres are locked in a struggle for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Division playoffs.
Unfortunately, the Caps stunk out the Verizon Center and lost, 5-1. Now the Caps are two points behind the Sabres with five games remaining. (In the NHL, a win counts for two points and a loss in overtime earns one.) So every game is really important for Washington. They can’t afford many bad games like the one they played Tuesday.
If the Caps make the playoffs, they will probably then have to play the top team in the East — either the New York Rangers or the Pittsburgh Penguins. Washington has a slim chance of winning the Southeast Division, in which case they would have a possibly easier first-round opponent, but I wouldn’t count on that.