The Washington Times - April 27, 2009, 10:54AM

The Capitals NEED to win on Tuesday night. Not just because they were favored to win the series, but because it would be a very helpful boost to the Caps finances.

Most industry officials will tell you—and team owner Ted Leonsis has said this himself—that an appearance in the first round of the playoffs doesn’t really do much for a team’s bottom line. It’s helpful, but you’re talking about four additional home games at best. And since 16 of the 30 NHL teams make the playoffs anyway, a first-round exit isn’t going to do much for you.

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Get to the second round, and then you can start really making some money, particularly if you have a long series.

I’m guessing the Caps could bring in an additional $1 million to $2 million in revenue just from tickets sales to one second-round playoff game. Multiply that by 4, and you’re doing very well. Keep winning, and you’re talking about tens of millions of dollars in additional direct revenue.

Furthermore, your team gets some real national exposure and can now be truly considered one of the elite teams. Now, suddenly no one is complaining about those increases in ticket prices for next season. You’re able to command more sponsorships, and at a higher price.

I’ve spoken to a number of industry sources who said a single playoff game can be worth several hundred thousand dollars in pure profit. In fact, many teams basically operate in the red all season and then make up the difference during the playoffs. And it’s a bigger deal in the NHL than other sports because teams don’t get as much money from the league’s national television contract.

Caps owner Ted Leonsis has been operating the team at a loss since he bought it. A win Tuesday might put him closer than ever to eliminating that gap in the team’s budget.