Why each on the bubble team will make the NHL playoffs and why they won’t

The NHL playoffs will be here before we know it, and as always, there are a slew of on the bubble teams looking to sneak into a wild card spot.

Arizona Coyotes v Detroit Red Wings
Arizona Coyotes v Detroit Red Wings / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages
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Washington Capitals

With 71 points this season, the Washington Capitals have somehow put themselves in a prime position to break into the second wild card spot despite ranking an abysmal 29th in scoring with 174 goals, or 2.68 per game. What’s even more impressive is the fact that, like a few other teams on this list, Washington sold at the trade deadline. 

But here they are, sitting just one point outside of a wild card spot despite opponents outscoring them 11-4 in their previous two contests. It’s clear that this team has done just enough to stick around the outside looking in all season, and they have routinely beaten opponents by three or more goals since February 10th - when they managed to win games, that is.

However, consistency is an issue, and while Washington has beaten teams handily lately, they have also been losing games by three or more goals just as often. For the Capitals, it’s all about getting consistent in the win column, and if they can figure out a way to maintain it, they will be in the playoffs should the Islanders or the Lightning slip up. 

With just over four weeks left in the regular season, the Caps have given us no reason to believe they will gain that consistency. Unless they turn the corner, it’s hard to project them earning a playoff berth in 2024.