The Washington Capitals have been a surprise in the Metropolitan Division playoff race in the 2023-24 National Hockey League season.
At, 15-9-4 through their first 28 games on Dec. 18, 2023, they rank fifth in the Metropolitan Division but are within three points of the second-place Philadelphia Flyers.
Moreover, they have at least two games in hand on the Flyers, New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes who occupy the spots ahead of them in the standings.
Philadelphia leads the pack behind the juggernaut New York Rangers at 17-10-3 through 30 games, securing 17 standing points to start the year in a majorly surprising fashion.
New York leads the Division at 21-7-1 and 43 standings points through 29 games this season.
Their crosstown rival, the Islanders, hold the third spot in the Metropolitan Division playoff race at 14-8-8 and 36 standings points, and could be even higher if it was not for a dozen blown leads throughout the 2023-24 NHL season.
The Carolina Hurricanes are fourth in the division at 16-12-3 with 35 standings points through 31 games this season.
As things stand now, Washington is holding onto the second wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference with a close race behind them.
New Jersey is 16-12-1 with 33 standings points, the Detroit Red Wings are right there behind them at 15-11-4 with 34 standings points and the Tampa Bay Lightning are 14-13-5 with 33 standings points.
It is a tight pack of five teams and the Capitals have the best point percentage out of all of the teams within a point of each other with a .607 point percentage.
None of the others have a point percentage over .569, which is owned by the Devils.
You can view website betting odds here to see how the Capitals stack up against the competition.
Or you can read them here, because I will give them to you.
The Capitals have the second-worst playoff odds in the Metropolitan Division at +220.
Only the Columbus Blue Jackets, who trail by a wide margin, have worse odds at a whopping +3500.
Philadelphia is the only other squad to be a plus-bet in the division at +120 odds to make the postseason.
The Islanders (-140), Devils (-280) and Hurricanes (-300) round out the pack in the Metropolitan Divison.
As for the rest of the pack in the wild card race? Tampa Bay has -115 odds while Detroit has +138 odds.
This pins the Capitals with the worst odds to make the playoffs out of any team presently in the race.
Do they have what it takes to defy the odds?
They have a young core that has surprised many en route to a successful season despite a lack of production from Alex Ovechkin.
Perhaps Ovechkin heats up while the younger pieces cool off and Washington could keep itself in the race.
There are some serious flaws in some of the other teams in the race, with the Islanders having problems holding leads and the Devils and Hurricanes having goalie troubles, so the Capitals could get some help.
Perhaps a veteran Capitals team with some rejuvenated young pieces showing up could make its return to the playoffs after missing them last season.