The Caps' Mike Vogel points out via Twitter that, "[The Tampa Bay Lightning] have an absurd 12-game homestand that starts in less than two weeks." Well, here is how absurd, compared with the Caps' schedule over the same slice of the calendar (home games in yellow):
Not only do the Lightning get that 12-game home stand, but in that 12-game home stand the Lightning do not have to play in any back-to-back games. Compare that with the two sets of such games the Caps will play, all four of the contests on the road, one of them coming at the end of a three-game western road swing that will mean three games in four nights on the road. The second of the two back-to-backs will be the second meeting of the year against the Penguins in Pittsburgh, the Caps' first trip to Consol Energy Arena.
The Lightning also appear to be getting a break in that only six of the 12 teams they will play on that home stand are currently in the top eight of their respective conferences. Nine of the Caps' 13 opponents over that stretch are in the top-eight, and San Jose and Los Angeles are each only two points out of eighth place in the West.
You would hope that the next 12 days, in which the Caps will play one of those three-in-four nights groups of games (starting tonight), will provide the Caps with an opportunity to create some breathing room between themselves and the Lightning. That is, if you put stock in the idea of the Caps winning the Southeast Division as a good thing heading into the playoffs. Because after that, the Lightning will have a month in which the schedule smiles upon them compared to that of their closest division pursuer.