Breaking down the East’s shifting playoff landscape

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When the dust settled on tonight’s games involving Eastern Conference squads, the playoff situation looked significantly different.

Let’s go through all of today’s big changes…

Washington moves from first Wild Card position to second seed in Metropolitan Division

The Washington Capitals’ surge continued on Thursday with a 5-4 shootout victory against the Montreal Canadiens. While the Capitals have gone 10-5-0 since the start on March, the Penguins are 7-7-2 and the Islanders are 4-6-4 over the same span. As a result, Washington leapfrogged both Pittsburgh and the Islanders tonight.

That being said, Washington’s position is far from secure. With 96 points in 78 contests, the Capitals are tied with the Islanders in points and ROW (Washington is leading because of the series record between those two squads this season) while Pittsburgh is just one point behind and has played in one less contest. Still, the fact that Washington is even in the running for the second seed speaks in part to Pittsburgh and New York’s mediocre play of late.

Boston’s putting Ottawa, Florida in an increasingly desperate position

The Bruins, Panthers, and Senators all won tonight, but this late in the season, maintaining the status quo is great news for Boston. The Senators and Panthers are simply running out of opportunities to overtake the Bruins.

Boston has 93 points in 78 contests, while Ottawa is three points behind and has played in only 77 games. Florida matches Boston in terms of games played and is trailing by six points. At this stage it would take a miracle for the Panthers to make the playoffs, even if they win all four of their remaining games.

Is Detroit’s playoff streak in trouble?

The Red Wings seemed like a lock to make the playoffs at the start of March, but Detroit is on a 4-9-2 slump, including tonight’s 3-2 loss to Boston. With a 40-24-13 record, Detroit is tied with Boston in terms of points, although it has played in one less game. The odds are still stacked in the Red Wings favor, but if they continue to struggle then Ottawa might end up surpassing Detroit rather than Boston. Wouldn’t that be an incredible last twist to the improbable 2014-15 Eastern Conference Wild Card race.

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