The Pittsburgh Penguins could have been the top team in the East last year, that is, if they wanted a date with the Boston Bruins in the first round. Instead they "lost" their last game of the season, thus pitting the Penguins against the deflating Ottawa Senators, a team they dispatched in four games.
While the Penguins are an incredibly talented team, it was helpful that their first-round contest was a cupcake opponent, rather than, say, the Philadelphia Flyers.
Now the Capitals are somewhat in the same position the Penguins were in. While they may not be able to chase down the Bruins (we believe!), the question that will need to be asked at the end of the season is, do we want to be second or third?
The teams are ranked in current playoff order and the two bubble teams were added for a "what if?" scenario.
So would you want to be the third-place team and potentially face a tougher opponent or the second seed potentially facing a team that surged into the playoffs?