Sunday, March 1, 2009

T-Minus Six Weeks

With the regular season ending six weeks from today, it's time to take a look at how the Eastern playoff chase breaks down, and how the teams stack up - and take a shot at how the teams will finish up.

1) Boston (42-12-9, 93 points, 19 games remaining): The Bruins come back home after an ugly trip to Florida, and go 2-0-1 against the Panthers, Ducks and Caps. While the gap is still eight points over the Caps and Devils, Boston should have enough to hang on to the top seed in the East. Prediction: First

2) New Jersey (41-19-3, 85 points, 19 games remaining): Martin Brodeur comes back strong, going 3-0 with a pair of shutouts to help the Devils tie the Capitals for the second seed in the East. With Patrick Roy's record in sight, figure on New Jersey to be a strong team over the next couple of weeks. Prediction: Second

3) Washington: (40-19-5, 85 points, 18 games remaining): While the Caps have proven they can play with the best with a 3-0-1 mark against the Bruins and a 2-1-1 record against the Devils, losses like Sunday's 6-1 thumping by Florida could keep Washington from getting the first or second seed in the playoffs. Prediction: Third

4) Philadelphia (33-18-10, 76 points, 21 games remaining): With games in hand, the Flyers have the inside track on the fourth seed in the East. However, losing to the Devils this afternoon really hurts Philadelphia's chances of catching them for the Atlantic Division crown. Prediction: Fourth

5) Montreal (34-22-7, 75 points, 19 games remaining): Following Alexei Kovalev's forced vacation and the La Presse incident, the Canadiens are 3-0-0 and seemingly one of the few teams in the pack that wants to earn themselves a playoff berth. The Habs also figure to be busy at this week's deadline. Prediction: Fifth

6) Florida (32-23-8, 72 points, 19 games remaining): The Panthers sandwich a pair of impressive wins over the Bruins and Capitals in between two ugly performances in Boston and New Jersey. With Florida making a strong bid to end its playoff drought, the 'Cats might be a buyer than a seller at the deadline. Prediction: Eighth

7) Rangers (32-24-8, 72 points, 18 games remaining): The Rangers continue to struggle, although they finally get John Tortorella his first win with a thumping of Colorado. Now, will New York be tempted to pull a major deal at the deadline to try and earn a playoff spot? Prediction: Seventh

8) Pittsburgh (32-26-6, 70 points, 18 games remaining): Without Sidney Crosby in the lineup, the Penguins have won three games in a row to move into the last playoff spot in the East. Now, with the rumors of some more changes in Pittsburgh before the deadline, it'll be interesting to see what the Pens do this week. Prediction: Sixth

9) Buffalo (31-25-7, 69 points, 19 games remaining): If the Sabres don't acquire another goaltender at the deadline, it looks like they're going to be golfing come mid-April. Patrick Lalime has been sub-par as losses to Anaheim, Carolina and the Islanders has put Buffalo on the outside looking in. Prediction: Tenth

10) Carolina (32-27-5, 69 points, 18 games remaining): Carolina has a night to forget in Atlanta, blowing a 3-1 lead to the Thrashers and blowing a chance to move up in the standings. Now, they get a date with the Capitals Tuesday and figure to be in an ornery mood. Prediction: Ninth

No comments:

Post a Comment