Friday, March 26, 2010

A playoff update

Things are becoming clearer.

Eastern Conference
1. Washington 109 points (8 games left)
2. New Jersey 91 (9)
3. Buffalo 90 (10)
4. Pittsburgh 91 (8)
5. Ottawa 83 (8)
6. Montreal 82 (7)
7. Philadelphia 80 (8)
8. Boston 78 (9)
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9. Atlanta 76 (8)
10. NY Rangers 75 (8)
11. Tampa Bay 72 (8)
12. Florida 71 (9)
13. Carolina 71 (9)
14. NY Islanders 70 (8)
15. Toronto 66 (8)

Thoughts: Fewer horses in the East race than the last update. Carolina is getting Cam Ward back, but both the Hurricanes and Panthers need small miracles to reach the postseason. The Islanders are done. Toronto will be eliminated soon. Tampa Bay is too inconsistent to make a run. Really, it's a three-horse race between Boston, Atlanta and the Rangers. We might not want to rule out a Philadelphia collapse though.

For the Bruins, Tuukka Rask needs to play more like he did Tuesday (a shutout) than he did Thursday (five goals on 18 shots.) Boston cannot score - even when Marc Savard was healthy - and needs to win games 2-1. The Thrashers need to avoid their tendency towards three-game losing streaks (they've had five of at least three losses; six if they lose their next game) to put more pressure on Boston. Plus, as I mentioned last week, their April schedule is brutal.

I don't know what New York team will show up from night to night. Neither does John Tortorella, I'm betting. Marian Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist need to carry that team.

Western Conference
1. San Jose 100 (8)
2. Chicago 99 (9)
3. Vancouver 94 (8)
4. Phoenix 98 (7)
5. Nashville 91 (7)
6. Los Angeles 90 (9)
7. Colorado 89 (9)
8. Detroit 87 (9)
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9. Calgary 83 (8)
10. St. Louis 79 (8)
11. Minnesota 78 (8)
12. Dallas 78 (8)
13. Anaheim 76 (9)
14. Columbus 72 (8)
15. Edmonton 55 (9)

Thoughts: Even less to talk about here. Detroit's surge since the Olympic break (9-2-1, plus a win in the final game before the break) is almost turning the playoff race into a laugher. A Red Wings win tonight over Minnesota puts them ahead of Calgary by six points and will cripple Anaheim, Dallas, the Wild and St. Louis - unless Colorado (5-4-1 in the last 10) or Los Angeles (4-4-2) continue to falter. The Blue Jackets are a couple points from being officially eliminated.

Really, in the West it's shaping up to discuss playoff positioning. Unless the Flames, pardon the pun, get hot. They'll need help even if they, er, catch fire.

The top four in each conference is looking relatively secure. Many teams need to go on a torrid streak and hope teams in front of them go on epic collapses.

Officially in: Washington, San Jose, Chicago

Officially out: Edmonton

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