Six points back of eighth place in the Eastern Conference, the Washington Capitals are already long shots to make the playoffs.
With four tough road games up next on the schedule, the postseason dream could be all but shattered by the end of the week.
“It’s the biggest week for us,” captain Alex Ovechkin said Sunday after beating Buffalo, 5-3, at the Verizon Center. “We can end the season this week (or) we can continue to fight for the playoffs.”
Washington plays Tuesday in Pittsburgh against the red-hot Penguins, then has back-to-back games Thursday and Friday in Winnipeg, and finishes the trip Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the desperate Rangers.
The Caps haven’t been very good away from home this season, winning just four times in 13 games. If that trend doesn’t change, they’ll almost certainly miss the playoffs for the first since 2006-07. With that could come many changes, including possibly a new general manager. George McPhee has been in the position since June of 1997.