Friday, March 30, 2007

NHL East: Leafs, Hurricanes, Islanders miss playoffs

Earlier this week I wrote a post about the tight Eastern conference playoff race that broke down as follows:

3 playoff spots + 5 points + 6 teams = priceless

Well 4 days later, and 6 out of the 39 games remaining for these teams, the race has become tighter than a devout nun.

3 playoff spots + 3 points + 6 teams = even more priceless

In fact you could argue that there are now 8 teams fighting for 4 playoff spots if you include Atlanta, which could conceivably be caught by Tampa Bay, and Florida who are only 6 points out of that final playoff spot.

As of today there are 31 games remaining for the 6 teams, 14 of which are head to head matchups between the contenders for the final three spots.

Rangers - 87 points in 6th - 5 remaining, 3 head to head, a possible 16 point swing
Lightning - 86 points in 7th - 5 remaining, 2 head to head, a possible 12 point swing
Canadiens - 86 points in 8th - 5 remaining, 2 head to head, a possible 12 point swing
Maple Leafs - 85 points in 9th - 5 remaining, 3 head to head, a possible 16 point swing
Islanders - 84 points in 10th - 6 remaining, 2 head to head, a possible 14 point swing
Hurricanes - 84 points in 11th - 5 remaining, 2 head to head, a possible 12 point swing

Looking over the above numbers it looks like the teams with the best chance to make the playoffs are the Rangers, Lightning and Leafs if you only look at the numbers.

If I had to predict the outcome of the remaining games in the East they would end up as follows (assuming that Rick DiPietro is gone for the remainder of the regular season!):
Rangers - 3 wins (PHI, NYI, MON), 1 loss (PIT), 1 IT/SO Win (TOR) for 8 points
Lightning - 3 wins (CAR, WAS, FLA), 2 losses (CAR, ATL) for 6 points
Canadiens - 2 wins ( BOS, TOR) , 3 losses (OTT, BUF, NYR) for 4 points
Maple Leafs - 2 wins (PHI, NYI), 2 losses (PIT, MON), 1 OT/SO loss (NYR) for 5 points
Islanders - 1 win (PHI), 5 losses (BUF, OTT,NYR,TOR,NJD) for 2 points
Hurricanes - 3 wins (FLA,FLA,TAM), 2 losses (TAM, ATL) for 6 points

This leaves the standings as follows:
6 - Rangers - 95 points
7 - Lightning - 92 points
8 - Canadiens - 90 points
8 - Maple Leafs - 90 points
8 - Hurricanes - 90 points
9 - Islanders - 86 points

Giving us a threeway tie for 8th place. The tiebreaker is number of games won putting Montreal in 8th (and the playoffs), Carolina in 9th and Toronto in 10th.

Interesting no?

As pivotal as the head to head matchups will be in the final days of the season the real clincher is likely to be games against Florida, Washington, Boston and Philadelphia. Each of the teams in the race for the East have at least 1 game against these weaker teams. Missing out on those two points will decide the season for more than 1 team in this years playoff race.

1 comment:

hockey dude said...

Yeh, this race is as crowded as Paris Hilton's bedroom. Every game has to be treated as a playoff game, and if you do lose a game, it's got to be against a non-playoff contender such as Philadelphia, not another team in the hunt. It's going to be a hell of a rollercoaster ride over the next week.