Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
This article is updated to reflect results through March 30th. The table below summarizes the status of tie-breakers for home ice advantage throughout the playoffs from a Washington Capitals perspective.
After tonight’s results, four regulation or overtime wins by the Capitals out of the final six games virtually guarantees home ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
On Thursday, in a hard fought, tight contest, the Carolina Hurricanes bested the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 in overtime. The Jackets’ veterans did a decent job but their top points leaders need to produce more. Jack Johnson scored his fourth goal of the year, toward the end of the second period, receiving a great pass from Scott Hartnell. Boone Jenner had a solid all-around game too. Carolina tied it up when the 28th shot ricocheted off of Jackets’ defender Seth Jones’ skate into the goal with less than five minutes to play in regulation and then won it in overtime. The Hurricanes set a franchise record tonight with 13 straight games without a regulation loss (9-0-4). Joonas Korpisalo was in goal for the Jackets as Sergei Bobrovsky rested for tomorrow’s showdown against the Chicago Blackhawks.
At this point, the Caps cannot lose the second tie-breaker to the Penguins. For home ice advantage, the Penguins would need to beat the Capitals on points and that looks less likely to happen. Both the Blackhawks and the Penguins need to win to keep their hopes alive for a chance at the league’s overall home ice advantage.
It now appears more likely that one of the first two tie-breakers — points followed by regulation and overtime wins (i.e., excludes shootouts), also known as ROW — will determine whether the Capitals or the Columbus Blue Jackets will secure home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Once past these two tiebreakers, the Caps hold the decided advantage if two clubs are tied:
Here is a key for reading the table:
Areas where Caps have a current advantage start with a +; the number that immediately follows is the current lead margin. The number in parenthesis represents the most an opponent could achieve; i.e., if the Caps reach that number, the worst that could happen would be that the next tie-breaker would be employed.
If the Caps were behind on a tie-breaker, it would start with a – and the number that followed would have to be attained by the Capitals to close the gap.
If just “Caps” is in the same column as the opponent, the Capitals have already won the tie-breaker in a two-way tie.
Pens = Pittsburgh Penguins; CBJ = Columbus Blue Jackets; Hawks = Chicago Blackhawks
PTS = Points; ROW = Regulation and Overtime Wins (Shootouts excluded); HTH = Head to Head leader in points; GD = Differential between teams’ goal differentials
If three or more clubs, including the Capitals, are tied, the Caps are in a strong position but not a definitive position. For instance, if the Capitals, Penguins and Blue Jackets end up tied on both points and ROW, and the Blue Jackets beat the Capitals in regulation on April 2nd and the Penguins in any fashion on April 4th in Pittsburgh, the Blue Jackets would actually leap frog the Caps and win the three-way HTH tie-breaker. If the Caps get a point on April 2nd, the Blue Jackets beat the Penguins on April 4th, and the teams end up tied on both points and ROW, it would come down to the difference in goal differential between the Caps and Blue Jackets. However, a three way tie is looking unlikely at this point.
WHAT’S ON TAP
On Friday, all four teams are in action. The Capitals visit the Arizona Coyotes and puck drop is at 10pm on CSN. Prior to that, the Penguins visit the New York Rangers at 7pm and the Blue Jackets visit the Chicago Blackhawks with puck drop at 8:30pm.
After Friday, teams are down to five games or less in their regular season schedule!
By Tim Foisie Follow @12th_man_Tifosi