Thursday night the Washington Capitals clinched a spot in the playoffs. Unlike previous seasons, there was no doubt it would happen and fans were less nervous. For now, the focus is on that first place spot in the Metropolitan Division and who the Caps will play in the first round. The Caps are hoping for that home ice advantage. The NHL playoffs are based on a complex bracket system and each night in April brings teams a little closer to discovering who they will play.
As of Friday morning the Capitals are holding the first place in Division with a three-point lead over the New York Islanders. Two points behind them are the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Friday night the Penguins play the Predators and if they win, they could catch up with the Islanders in points. UPDATE: Pens lost Friday and have yet to clinch or change their place in the standings.
Meanwhile, here are how things look in the Western Conference. More teams have clinched their entry to the playoffs. The Capitals final round opponents, the Vegas Golden Knights clinched Friday night (updated).
If the playoffs began today, according to the NHL, this is how the first round would look.