If you ever needed a night to cheer for Sean Avery or the Rangers, let it be tonight.
With a Rangers win against the Devils, the Rangers give the Capitals a "clean slate" to work with. A chance to sit in front of the Devils with the same amount of games played and the opportunity to control their own destiny.
Much has been said about who the Caps want to see in the first round and who they want to avoid. We touched on it a few days ago and, since that post, the playoff picture has drastically changed.
Unless a slump hits the Bruins, Boston will take the top slot in the East, but the recent falters of the New Jersey Devils have created a tight race for an all-important second slot. Home ice advantage is on the line for later rounds (the Caps are guaranteed it in the first round) and a date with either the Habs, Rangers, Panthers or possibly even the Sabres is the prize.
Here's the Devils' remaining schedule after tonight's game.
Two guaranteed playoff teams (Pittsburgh and Carolina), three bubble teams (Ottawa, Toronto and Buffalo) and one cupcake (Tampa). The Devils also have a back-to-back set of games, while the Capitals do not.
Now compare that to Washington's remaining schedule.
Three teams with lottery tickets for this year's draft (Tampa, Atlanta twice and Long Island) and two bubble teams (Florida and Buffalo).
Whose schedule would you want?
The Capitals are in complete control of their playoff positioning, and they'll only have themselves to blame if they take the third seed.