OK, so it's been just over a week since we last looked at the standings. Plenty has happened in determining who will make the postseason, but the final week of the year will still provide plenty of drama.
In: Washington, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, New Jersey, Ottawa
The Capitals have clinched the top seed in the East. The Sabres lead the Northeast Division by five points with four games left. The Penguins and Devils are still going back-and-forth for the Atlantic. Whoever finishes second will most likely earn the fourth seed. Pittsburgh is currently in the lead by two points but the Devils play tonight and reclaim the lead with a win. Buffalo and the Atlantic leader are jockeying for the No. 2 spot. The Senators are all but locked into the fifth seed.
Out: Just Toronto officially, but we can add Tampa Bay. The Lightning are eight points behind Philadelphia and Boston with four games left, but can tie the Bruins in wins. The head-to-head is tied at four points each. The problem is Tampa's negative-44 goal differential, compared to Boston's +1, which would keep them out.
6. Montreal 84 points (4 games left)
7. Boston 82 (5)
8. Philadelphia 82 (4)
9. Atlanta 81 (3)
10. NY Rangers 80 (5)
11. Carolina 76 (4)
12. NY Islanders 76 (4)
13. Florida 74 (5)
We're being polite including Florida in the mix, but mathematically it is possible. Same with the Islanders. Carolina can actually sneak in if the Hurricanes maintain their hot streak and Philadelphia continues its collapse.
The Thrashers earned a valuable point Saturday afternoon with an overtime loss to Pittsburgh, but the second point they left on the table was huge. Working in their favor is none of the teams above them is doing much to pull away from the pack.
The Rangers actually have some nice things working in their favor. They're only two points out and have a game in hand on Philadelphia. New York can end the season with more wins than the Flyers, but the best part is the schedule. The Rangers and Flyers play a home-and-home series to conclude the season. New York also plays non-playoff teams in Florida and Toronto (along with Buffalo.) Philadelphia has Detroit and Toronto remaining as well.
Boston has a tough schedule after its game with Toronto, getting Washington twice, Buffalo and Carolina. The Maple Leafs can play spoiler with games against Philadelphia, the Rangers and Montreal to close the season.
In: San Jose, Chicago, Vancouver, Phoenix, Nashville
The only certainty as far as positioning goes is the Canucks will be the third seed.
Out: Edmonton, Columbus, Minnesota
6. Detroit 96 (4)
7. Los Angeles 94 (5)
8. Colorado 89 (5)
9. Calgary 89 (4)
10. Dallas 84 (4)
11. Anaheim 83 (5)
12. St. Louis 83 (5)
It's safe to say Detroit is in. The Kings aren't far away but best not slack off. It's basically a two-horse race between collapsing Colorado and inconsistent but streaking Calgary. The Avalanche almost could've ended the race but lost in regulation last night to the Flames. Have to wonder if the young Colorado players have enough mental strength - not to mention on-ice talent - to avoid the choke-job.
Neither team has a favorable schedule, apart from Colorado's game in hand. But the Avalanche play San Jose, Vancouver, Edmonton, Chicago and Los Angeles. The Flames face Chicago, San Jose, Minnesota and Vancouver.
All told, it should be a fun final week.