I haven't been talking about the Caps at all, lately, although I've watched almost every game. The only one I missed since my last update was the game against the Rangers (and I did watch the rest of the game vs the Bruins the other day). With the ass-kicking that appears to have been, I'm very sorry about it.
With one game left, they're in second place in the division. With the Islanders having just won tonight, they could swap positions tomorrow, but the only effect that will have is on home ice for their series.
Third place in the Atlantic Division, along with the two wild cards, is impressively up in the air, though. Right now Detroit has that third-place spot, but they could be knocked down by Ottawa. Conversely, Boston could knock Ottawa out entirely out of the playoffs.
It's also possible that a Boston win could knock Pittsburgh out; wouldn't that be a shame. That's really funny, in a way. At the beginning of the season, both of those teams were considered front-runners to win the conference. And now they're fighting for the playoff scraps. Couldn't happen to two nicer teams.
Most of the top of the conference is set, although Tampa could pass Montreal on tie-breakers for first in the Atlantic.
Anyway, not too important. A couple notes on the Caps.
First, it's good to see that they've found some secondary scoring the last few games.
Second, congratulations to Galiev for making it all the way up. He's had a bit of a rough road. He killed it in junior, with St John. But he crashed and burned in his first appearance in the AHL. He got sent down to the ECHL, and he wasn't exactly killing it when he got there, either.
His second pro season started in the ECHL, and he wasn't great, but was good enough to go back up to Hershey. He was ok there, last year, and stayed with Hershey this year. And this year, he's been killing it in Hershey. I don't know that he'll get more reward for his efforts than his appearance with the Caps against Boston, the other night, but you could definitely see he wasn't taking anything for granted. Congrats to him for turning it around.
Third, the Caps look pretty good, especially on the defensive end. Trotz does a good job of keeping the defenders involved offensively, and that's fun to watch.
Fourth, the recent line shuffling has been a bit weird. Ward isn't a bad complement to OV, but I'm not sure about Kuzya centering them (unrelated, but K's assist to MarJo vs Boston was incredibly sweet). Separating OV and Nicky didn't work well for a while, but Nicky's finally getting scoring help from his new linemates. Also, I do like how Nicky and OV get reunited for offensive zone faceoffs frequently to try to set up the instant goal.
Fifth, I wish it hadn't taken an injury, but I'm glad to see Bura back up. I still can't see any reason for him getting sent down; he needs to stay.
Sixth, I hope Wilson is back soon, although I even more hope that he isn't rushed if he isn't ready. I do like the way he draws penalties (even if he's had some mystifying matching penalties, lately); the Caps could definitely use that.
Seventh, we took the family to see the Nashville game the other day. We had the clubhouse deal, which wasn't bad. Get there early, though, to do that. We didn't end up getting to our seats until just before the end of the first period, when the Caps were already down by three and Holtby was on the bench. The rest of the game was quite good (getting goals in the first 21 seconds of both remaining periods was pretty amazing), but that wasn't cool.
Having said all that, I'm not too much caring about the results of tomorrow's finale against the Rangers. Basically, I just hope no one is injured. If they get home ice against the Isles, great. If not? Well, the Caps might be the worst playoff home team in the league, so no great loss.
I'm definitely looking forward to the playoffs; I think they'll make some noise. Go Caps!