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On November 23, 2007, newly-promoted Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau worked his first game behind the bench in the National Hockey League. That night, the cellar-dwelling Capitals—-who were in last place in the Southeast Division—-beat the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime by the score of 4-3, earning Boudreau his first NHL win. Last night, Boudreau and the surging Capitals returned to Philadelphia, winning again by the score of 4-3. And now the Caps—-one of the NHL’s hottest teams since Boudreau’s promotion—-find themselves in first place of the Southeast Division, which automatically puts them in third place in the Eastern Conference.

And, wouldn’t you know it? If the playoffs started today, the Caps would play the Pittsburgh Penguins. Boo. (P.S. Suck it, Pittsburgh.)

Of course, the Florida Panthers and the Atlanta Thrashers—-two of the Caps’ Southeast Division “rivals”—-play tonight; a Panthers win would tie them with the Caps for first place in the extremely tight division while a Thrashers win would actually put them back in first place. So root against both of them. They suck.

On Friday night, the Caps play the Carolina Hurricanes at home in what will essentially be a four-point game. You should go. And here’s a heads-up for all you broke-ass students: Tomorrow night is one of the Caps’ “Student Rush” nights, which means—-if you present a valid student I.D. card at the Verizon Center box office on the day of the game—-you can get a $25 lower-level ticket or a $10 upper-level ticket. Good God Almighty, what a deal! Just remember to NOT lean forward during the entire game and to NOT get in/out of your seat while the puck is in play.