March 16, 2007

Playoff Races Update

There is essentially one battle left and it's remarkable that Colorado has managed to keep pace enough to still be in the game at this point. All Colorado has to do at this point is win the one game in hand on Calgary (@ Phoenix) and then win one more game than Calgary over the last 11 games. If you compare their schedules, Colorado plays Edmonton twice, Phoenix twice (one game in hand + once more) and 6 tough divisional games. Calgary on the other hand has the next three home games vs. Minnesota, Detroit and Nashville. Followed by a four game road trip against the division (and one against Chicago). In April, thanks to a scheduling problem in December (if I remember correctly), Calgary plays Colorado twice and Edmonton on the 7th. I'm sure if Edmonton can knock Calgary out of the playoffs they'll at least try to win. Sandwiched between those 3 challenging games is a game in San Jose.

The goal in the East is to get to 92 points. While I wont guarantee that Atlanta and Tampa make the playoffs they're sitting at 96% each at this point, which is as good as Calgary chances. So I'll focus on the 5 teams who are fighting for two spots: New York Islanders, Toronto, New York Rangers, Carolina, Montreal.

New York Islanders
Looked home and cooled for a week until they lost DiPietro. 6 home games and 4/6 away games against weaker teams (Tampa, Florida, Philadelphia), if they don't make it they wont deserve it. Two games against the Rangers will be the big impact games.

I'll continue to maintain that 3 teams from the North East division will make it in the playoffs (although my numbers show this only happens about 68% of the time). Toronto will battle for this spot with Montreal and they have two games against each other including one on April 7.

New York Rangers
New York has one of the more challenging schedules for their remaining games with 5 games vs. other playoff race teams in their last 7 games. They need to gain ground (against Boston and Philadelphia) in the next two weeks in order to stand a chance.

If Carolina makes they playoffs they'll prevent Toronto or Montreal from making the playoffs. You could call it a three way battle here (Carolina vs. Toronto vs. Montreal) for the 8th spot. With only one game vs. other playoff race candidates their schedule favors their success, however they need to win about 7 games out of 10 to make it, which would be a challenge, considering they've gone 12-13 (OT: 2-4) since January 1.

Gut feeling: New York Islanders in 7th with Toronto in 8th.

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