Late in the third period of last night's game between the Capitals and visiting Florida Panthers, Comcast SportsNet showed the final score of the Philadelphia Flyers-Buffalo Sabres contest.
The Flyers had defeated the Sabres 2-1 in regulation, so all the Capitals needed to do was hold on to the 3-2 lead they were enjoying to secure a fifth consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Alexander Semin ensured the Capitals would hold on by beating Panthers goaltender Jose Theodore on a backhand shot to the top left corner of the net with just over a minute to go.
The 4-2 win over the Panthers clinched the Capitals fifth straight postseason appearance and gives them a realistic chance of claiming their fifth straight Southeast Division championship.
A regulation loss by the Panthers to the Carolina Hurricanes coupled with a Capitals win over the New York Rangers in tomorrow's regular season finale's would give the Capitals their eigth division championship in franchise history.
After the game, Capitals players and coaches had different takes on how important it is that they win the Southeast and earn the number three seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Alex Ovechkin said it doesn't matter where the Capitals are seeded, but Troy Brouwer, Brooks Laich and coach Dale Hunter all said you want to earn the highest seed as possible, especially with home-ice in the first round at stake.
As much as I like the Capitals having home-ice in a playoff series, it hasn't done this group of Capitals any favors the last four years.
We all know about the four Game 7's they played at Verizon Center from 2008-2010 and we all know they only won one of those four games, so I don't need to go into any great detail about that.
I also don't need to go into great detail about how this group of Capitals has had home-ice advantage in all six playoff series they've played in together and have only won two of them; both being over an inferior group of New York Rangers.
My take on this is very simple. The Capitals seed in this years playoffs is irrelevant.
Despite the first seven games of the season, the Capitals have been an inconsistent bunch. They seemingly quite on Bruce Boudreau which prompted General Manager George McPhee to hire Hunter as coach.
The thought there was Hunter's old school in your face style of hockey would rub off on the players and they would finally realize the little things they need to do to win hockey games.
With both Boudreau and Hunter, the Capitals have failed to consistently crash the net this season, forecheck, and tighten up in their defensive zone.
Those are the keys to winning in April, May and June, but the Capitals still don't seem to understand that concept.
So, by the end of the night tomorrow, the Capitals will either be the number three, seven, or eight seed in the Eastern Conference. That means either a first round matchup with the Rangers, defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, or the New Jersey Devils.
What do all three of those potential opponents have in common? They crash the net, forecheck consistently and play tight in their own zone.
Plus, all three teams are big and physical which isn't exactly the Capitals style. Yes, Ovechkin will steamroll anyone in the league and guys like Joel Ward and Jason Chimera are certainly not small.
But, the rest of the Caps lineup lacks the overall size of the Rangers, Bruins and Devils which in a seven game series is usually a bad thing.
Yes, lower seeded teams have made unexpected runs to the Stanley Cup Finals in the past. The Anaheim Ducks in 2003, the Calgary Flames in 2004, the Edmonton Oilers in 2006 and the Flyers in 2010 were all seven or eight seeds that made surprise runs to the Finals. Only the Flyers were defeated in less then seven games and their loss to the Chicago Blackhawks took six games.
Could the Capitals conceivably make a run with talented forwards like Ovechkin, Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and a defenseman like Mike Green?
But, seeing how inconsistent this team has been all year, I would bet they are outed in no more then six games.
I hope I'm wrong.