To reach eighth place in the East, the Caps must not only close the seven-point gap that exists but jump over six other teams. That’s an even bigger challenge because all intraconference play means a conference foe is getting points in every game.
“Other teams, what they do, is entirely out of our control,” Laich said. “The only thing that we can manage is what we do in this locker room and prepare for our games. That’s why when games like the doubleheader in Winnipeg do come around, that you really get excited for those games.”
Laich called it an opportunity to cut into the Jets’ lead atop the Southeast Division. Winning that division might still be the easiest avenue to a playoff berth, but with just 19 games left, the nine-point deficit is daunting.
Two losses at the Jets would be devastating to Washington’s division and playoff hopes. Ideally, the Caps would want back-to-back victories in regulation to climb the ladder, but struggling teams can’t be choosy.
“We’ve got to make sure that we get points no matter what the cost is,” Brouwer said. “If it takes 65 minutes, if it takes a shootout, we have to start getting points. … The bottom line is we’ve got to help ourselves by getting points any way we can.”