Capitals Take Final NHL Playoff Spot

The Washington Capitals recorded a wild victory on Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, giving them the 16th and final spot in the NHL’s playoffs. In a 1-1 game, the Flyers were forced to pull their goalie, because their playoff hopes only stayed alive with a win in regulation. Going to overtime would knock them out.

That’s when the Capitals got their game-winning empty-netter, giving them the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference. The regular season doesn’t end until Thursday, but the Caps are now locked into a first-round playoff matchup against the President’s Trophy-winning New York Rangers.

That series will begin in New York this weekend, and the Rangers are -450 to advance past the Caps. Washington is paying +340, which is good value for a team that split the season series with the Rangers, 2-2.

Eastern Conference First-Round Matchups

All of the teams are in, and all of the seeds have been decided in the East. Along with the Capitals at Rangers, we know the rest of the series in the Eastern Conference.

The No. 2 team in the Metropolitan Division is the Carolina Hurricanes, and they are -340 against the New York Islanders, paying +280. Last year these two also met in the first round, with Carolina winning in six games.

For the third time in history, we have an all-Florida playoff matchup, as the Florida Panthers meet the Tampa Bay Lightning. The first two series were won by the Lightning – a six-game win in the first round in 2021, and a second-round sweep in 2022. Oddsmakers have the Panthers turning around their fortunes and winning this series. Florida is -170 to win, and Tampa Bay is paying +145.

The other Eastern Conference first-round series features the Boston Bruins vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston is -125, and the Leafs are paying +105.

Western Conference Scenarios

Like in the East, we know the eight teams that will be in the playoffs in the Western Conference. But as we go into games on Wednesday, only one of the first round series is set. That is the Colorado Avalanche, paying -135, against the +115 Winnipeg Jets. By virtue of the Jets win over Seattle on Tuesday, they will have home ice against the Avs.

The Vancouver Canucks are going to win the Pacific Division and the Dallas Stars are going to take the Central. The Edmonton Oilers are the second-place team in the Pacific, and heading into Wednesday their playoff matchup is against the third-place Los Angeles Kings. But the Vegas Golden Knights could still sneak into that third spot, dropping the Kings into a wild card, which would flip the matchups around.

In terms of emerging as the Stanley Cup champion, the Hurricanes are the current betting favorite at +650. The Panthers and Avalanche are next at +700. The Oilers, with Connor McDavid becoming just the fourth player in NHL history with 100 assists in a season (Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Bobby Orr are the others), are paying +750. 

The Rangers have the most regular season points, but they are only fifth on the Stanley Cup odds board, paying +800.

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