Monday, March 15, 2010

Standings still murky

This week's look at the standings.

Eastern Conference
1. Washington 101 points (13 games remaining)
2. Pittsburgh 87 (13)
3. Buffalo 82 (15)
4. New Jersey 83 (15)
5. Ottawa 79 (13)
6. Philadelphia 76 (14)
7. Montreal 76 (12)
8. Boston 72 (15)
9. NY Rangers 71 (13)
10. Tampa Bay 68 (14)
11. Atlanta 67 (14)
12. Florida 66 (15)
13. NY Islanders 65 (13)
14. Carolina 64 (14)
15. Toronto 58 (13)

A week ago, eight points separated #8 Boston from #13 Carolina. Now it's seven points between the Bruins and the new #13, the New York Islanders. Florida is still in the hunt at six points back, but the bigger difference between a week ago and now is, well, there's fewer games. Carolina's surge, as good as it was (nine wins in 12 games), is looking like too little, too late. The Hurricanes ended November with five wins. If they'd had, say, four more by that time, they'd be right in the hunt.

The Thrashers are just five points out but it's hard to believe they'll make a run. Atlanta looked good for a while but six straight losses has crippled it. They're not out yet but they better turn things around in a hurry and hope for help.

I think a lot of people maybe expect Boston to falter without Marc Savard. The Bruins are 1-1-1 since the injury, not counting the regulation loss to Pittsburgh, but they're in good position considering they have games in hand on pretty much everyone around them. We'll learn more about Boston after this week, which features games against New Jersey, Carolina, a rematch with the Penguins, and finally a huge game against the Rangers.

No one's really pulling away nor fading significantly. The Islanders and Rangers have both won two straight, so while Long Island isn't out of it yet, it's awfully close.

Western Conference
1. San Jose 96 (14)
2. Chicago 94 (14)
3. Vancouver 89 (13)
4. Phoenix 89 (13)
5. Los Angeles 85 (14)
6. Colorado 84 (14)
7. Nashville 81 (13)
8. Detroit 78 (14)
9. Calgary 77 (14)
10. St. Louis 73 (14)
11. Minnesota 72 (14)
12. Dallas 71 (14)
13. Anaheim 70 (14)
14. Columbus 65 (13)
15. Edmonton 49 (14)

To begin, Edmonton became the first team to be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Second, huge game tonight when Calgary hosts Detroit. It's shaping up to be those two teams jockeying for the final spot, unless either Nashville falters or someone else gets hot.

You can never really rule anything out with over a dozen games left for everyone, but a 1-5-1 start to the post-Olympic break has all but ended Dallas' hopes. At this point, the Stars need a lot of help to hurdle all those teams ahead of them. The same goes for the Ducks, who are 1-4-1 since play resumed.

Even being 7-2-0 in its last nine, St. Louis remains five points out. Thanks in part to the downward spirals of Dallas and Anaheim, Minnesota hurdled two teams since last week but needs to leap over two more just to get into ninth. Given what we've seen of the Flames of late, it's easy to believe another collapse is possible.

The West picture seems clearer than in the East. Some teams can be ruled out: Edmonton, Toronto and most likely Columbus. Everyone else in both conferences still has glimmers of hope, but some need to start winning and fast - Anaheim, Dallas, Carolina and the Islanders.

No comments: