The Southeast Division stinks, and the Washington Capitals know it. They’re not ashamed of that, nor their domination of the Winnipeg Jets, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

“It’s been our saving grace this year,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “It’s been lucky that we’ve got to play those teams so much, but at the same time we’ve done a good job with them and we haven’t taken a lot of those games lightly because we know how important they are.”

The Caps lead a division that could better be known as the Southeasy based largely on their 12-3 record against the Jets, Hurricanes, Lightning and Panthers. They’re 9-14-2 against the rest of the Eastern Conference yet would earn the No. 3 seed in the playoffs if they maintain this lead.

“Obviously, our division is not as good, and we might end up on the third seed with home-ice advantage when we probably shouldn’t since we would be 8 or 7 in our conference,” center Mathieu Perreault said. “Yeah, it [stinks] that our division is not that good, but for us it worked out good.”

Going into two games against Southeast rivals, Thursday against Carolina and Saturday against Tampa Bay, the Caps have won six straight within the division. They lead second-place Winnipeg by two points and have a game in hand.

It’s a far cry from where they were March 14 before the most recent meeting with the Hurricanes, 10 points back of Carolina.

“You looked at it from where we put ourselves before, and it was hard to not look and say, ‘It’s going to take a bit of a miracle’ for us to come back,” Holtby said.