Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Checking the standings

This will pretty much be a semi-regular feature from now til the end of the season. The joy of nearly every team still being alive for the playoffs. We'll go a little more in-depth today.

Eastern Conference
1. Washington 97 points (16 games left)
2. Pittsburgh 84 (16)
3. Buffalo 79 (18)
4. New Jersey 79 (18)
5. Ottawa 77 (16)
6. Philadelphia 72 (18)
7. Montreal 70 (15)
8. Boston 69 (18)
9. NY Rangers 67 (16)
10. Atlanta 66 (18)
11. Tampa Bay 65 (18)
12. Florida 62 (18)
13. Carolina 61 (17)
14. NY Islanders 60 (17)
15. Toronto 52 (17)

Thoughts: Washington has all but sealed the #1 seed from the East. ... Toronto is still mathematically alive! ... There's still a lot of time left in the season, but tonight's games might start knocking teams out. The Islanders (vs. Philadelphia) and Panthers (vs. Minnesota) need to start winning and soon. ... The Marc Savard injury could end up costing Boston a top-eight spot. The Bruins couldn't score to begin with and it's not going to help not having Savard. But hey, at least they have Milan Lucic signed to a hefty contract. (I'm not going to let that go.) ... Carolina's made a nice run but it's tough believing the Hurricanes have the horses to have a legit shot.

Montreal has a big game tonight against Tampa Bay. The Canadiens have played the most games in the league and there are three teams with three games in hand on Montreal who can pass the Canadiens if they win each. The Lightning are one of them. ... Pittsburgh has managed to build a five-point division lead on New Jersey despite losing, in regulation, the first four meetings against the Devils. If the Penguins had won just one of those games, they'd have a nine-point lead. ... Buffalo may have regained its equilibrium and with two games in hand on Ottawa, control its own destiny in the Northeast. The Sabres are idle while the Senators play in Edmonton tonight. ... With Henrik Lundqvist, the Rangers can't be counted out. But they need Marian Gaborik and anyone else to step up offensively. Like Montreal, other teams have at least two games in hand on New York.

Can't make up my mind about Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Sometimes they look like they'll make a run, other times they have no business being in the discussion. I don't think they know what they have either.

Western Conference
1. San Jose 93 (17)
2. Chicago 91 (17)
3. Vancouver 82 (17)
4. Phoenix 83 (16)
5. Los Angeles 82 (17)
6. Colorado 80 (17)
7. Nashville 75 (17)
8. Detroit 74 (17)
9. Calgary 73 (17)
10. Dallas 70 (17)
11. St. Louis 69 (17)
12. Anaheim 68 (17)
13. Minnesota 67 (18)
14. Columbus 61 (16)
15. Edmonton 48 (17)

Thoughts: First thing that caught my eye is the games remaining is almost equal throughout the standings, unlike in the East. Only Phoenix and Columbus have 16 games left, only Minnesota has 18 left. Everyone else has 17. ... Biggest game on the schedule tonight: Detroit hosting Calgary. Slight separation possible or more chaos depending who wins (and how.) ... Chicago and San Jose have established themselves as the top two, but need to figure out who's #1. ... The Minnesota-Florida game will provide a modicum of life to one of the teams while hammering another nail in the other's. The Wild need the win more but it's close. ... Vancouver will still be in first place in the Northwest with a loss tonight to Colorado but it would make that race more interesting.

The Nashville-Atlanta game also has oodles of implications. The Predators will remain in the top eight but could be tied with two other teams depending how that Wings-Flames game turns out. The Thrashers can jump a spot in the East. ... Anaheim can't take the Blue Jackets lightly tonight after a horrendous game last night for the BJs. Underestimating your opponent is an easy way to earn no points. ... A recent five-game win streak got the Blues back into the conversation and their next three games are against teams below them. ... Dallas stopped a dangerous slide with a key win last night but has a brutal stretch ahead. The Stars' next 10 games (and 11 of 12) are against playoff teams if the season ended today. And good ones, like Buffalo, San Jose (three times), Colorado, Los Angeles (twice) to name a few. Talk about make-or-break.

Edmonton is almost mathematically eliminated. ... Columbus wants a mulligan on the season.

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