Capitals to face Ducks in final game before trade deadline as decisions loom

Caps to face Ducks in final game before trade deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

When the Capitals take the ice for Wednesday’s contest against the Anaheim Ducks, it may be the last time a couple players don the Washington sweater for an NHL game.

After going 7-14 over their last 21 games dating back to Jan. 6, the Capitals have watched their playoff chances slowly slip from their grasp. They enter play Tuesday only three points back of the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, but four teams stand in the way all holding at least one extra game in hand.

The Capitals’ front office already showed it's started making moves with the future in mind when it traded defenseman Dmitry Orlov and right wing Garnet Hathaway to the Bruins in a deal that netted them three draft picks including Boston’s 2023 first-rounder.

“This trade allows us to acquire draft capital, infuse youth and restock our system,” GM Brian MacLellan said in a statement following the trade. “While this season has proven challenging with injuries to our significant players, we are in a position to use some of our current assets to retool our club and build a competitive team moving forward.”

Both Orlov and Hathaway are set to be unrestricted free agents this summer, so the Capitals didn’t affect their roster for 2023-24 and beyond by dealing them. However, what they decide to do at the deadline will likely either leave open the possibility of making a run or firmly shift the team’s sights ahead to the next season.

Hockey-Reference puts the Capitals’ postseason odds at 9.1%, trailing that of other Wild Card contenders in the Pittsburgh Penguins (55.6%), Buffalo Sabres (57.6%), New York Islanders (36.5%), Detroit Red Wings (23.6%) and Florida Panthers (12.3%). If they’re still going to be playing come late April, it’s going to take a historic surge over their final 23 games.

First up are the Ducks, a team that beat the Capitals on Thursday 4-2 to extend their season-high losing streak to six games. Washington appeared to be turning things around when it dominated the New York Rangers for a 6-3 victory on Saturday, but that momentum was quickly quashed by the Sabres in a 7-4 loss the following day.

Anaheim ranks 31st in goals for (152) and 32nd in goals against (250) this season, which has led to the Ducks posting the lowest point total in the West. That should put the Capitals in a position to get in a win heading into the deadline, but they will have to improve upon their performance from their last matchup when they recorded 16 giveaways to squander advantages in both shots on goal (43-21) and special teams goals (1-0).