Playoff bubble watch — Washington Capitals edition

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With the NHL playoff race getting down to the wire, we’ll be providing regular updates on each bubble team’s postseason push.

On the bubble: Washington Capitals

Where they stand: 8th in the East, two points ahead of 9th-place Buffalo

Games remaining: 9

SportsClubStats.com says: 73.1% chance of making the playoffs

Why they’ll get in:

Like most things Caps-related, it starts with Alex Ovechkin – the captain has five goals in his last four games, including two in last night’s huge 5-3 win in Detroit.

It’s also worth noting that four of Washington’s five remaining home games are against teams that definitely won’t or probably won’t make the playoffs – Winnipeg, Minnesota, Buffalo, and Montreal. (The other is against Florida.) The Caps are 23-10-3 at the Verizon Center, one of the better home records in the NHL.

Why they won’t:

They’re not exactly the most clutch team in history. The Caps have fallen short too many times when the pressure’s on to trust them to get it done. Only yesterday Roman Hamrlik was imploring his teammates to stop “making the same mistakes over and over.” One win against a banged-up Detroit side doesn’t mean they’ve finally figured it out.

Quotable:

“That was probably the best period we’ve played all year. I thought after the first period, ‘That’s the Washington Capitals. That’s what we can play like.’” – forward Jason Chimera on the Caps’ first period against the Wings that ended with Washington leading 3-0.

Key game coming up:

Thursday at Philadelphia