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A Look at the Math: 1/28/10 January 28, 2010

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

Note: This write-up was composed following completion of Tuesday’s early games.

It’s a quiet Thursday night around the NHL, with only eight games on tap. A couple of them are battles of who could care less (Islanders-Hurricanes, Blues-Oilers), but there are a couple that could be the NHL’s answer to must-see TV (Wild-Avalanche, Sharks-Blackhawks). Any intriguing series or playoff possibilities? Read on…

ATLANTA THRASHERS AT PHILADELPHIA FLYERS. Game 2 of 4. ATL leads by 2. As of Tuesday night, the Flyers are currently in the East 6 spot, and tops among a group of 8 teams all vying for the final 3 playoff spots in the East. That group does include Atlanta, so you know the Thrashers are going to try to move up with a win on the road. They’re also coming off a home win over the Ducks Tuesday night, which might be a crash course on how to handle the Flyers. The hockey could be intriguing, but the math, not so much. Both teams have a ways to go before their playoff fates will be any clearer.

OTTAWA SENATORS AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS. Game 4 of 4. PIT leads by 2. The last go-round of the regular season for Pens versus Sens, much to the disappointment of hockey chin waggers all across the dial, I’m sure. Ottawa may or may not be able to catch Buffalo down the stretch for the top spot in the Northeast, but they are certainly making things interesting. They’re 5 in back of the Penguins for the 4 East spot, and so this is a four-point game for them. Ottawa may have also seen the recent Caps win in the Igloo, and might be able to take some courage from that: good teams can beat the Pens in their building, and you generally won’t hold down the 5 spot in January if you’re stinking up the joint. Lots of hockey left to play before either team’s fate is clarified, but the hockey should be intriguing. Season series: OTT must win in regulation to tie the series, or PIT wins.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS AT CAROLINA HURRICANES. Game 3 of 4. NYI lead by 2. For the Hurricanes, it’s not whether they’ll be eliminated from postseason contention, it’s when. Heading into Tuesday night’s games, they were -23 against San Jose for President’s Trophy elimination, and the next several top-spot eliminations in the East could follow very shortly thereafter. A regulation loss would put Carolina’s top-line score down in double digits. You have to think the Canes are going to try to give their Caniacs a good fight tonight, but you also have to wonder how much fight they have left when it looks like the only thing they’ve got left to play for at this point is ping-pong balls. Nothing earth-shattering going on for the Fishermen, but this could be the night when Caniacs have to start wiping the tears off their calculators. While we’re at it, series possibility: NYI can clinch series with any win.

LOS ANGELES KINGS AT COLUMBUS BLUEJACKETS. Game 3 of 4. Series tied. The Kings probably won’t catch San Jose, but they could still move up to the 4 spot by the end of the season if they play their cards right. Columbus is enduring a heartbreaking season after their first taste of the postseason, while the Kings are a team on the rise. The Jackets are less than thirty points away from being eliminated from the top spot in the West, and their top-line score is 15 points below the current #8 team on the magic numbers chart heading into Tuesday night’s games. Their margin for error is pretty much zero at this point, unless they’re decided to rebuild. Math could be somewhat amusing if you don’t like the Jackets that much, but other than that, yawn.

MINNESOTA WILD AT COLORADO AVALANCHE. Game 6 of 6. MIN has clinched series. A few parting shots for these Northwest rivals–Minnesota-Colorado is comparable to Pittsburgh-Philadelphia in terms of how much the two squads hate each other. No real playoff intrigue here, and the season series is already settled, but by all means tune in for the hockey–this will be an entertaining game.

CALGARY FLAMES AT PHOENIX COYOTES. Game 3 of 4. Series tied. The Flames have done some skidding and sliding lately, and they’d like to stop it with a win against the upstart Coyotes. Nothing to determine here, but look for a spirited game from a Calgary squad that isn’t ready to hit the links just yet.

ST LOUIS BLUES AT EDMONTON OILERS. Game 3 of 4. Series tied. Yeah, I know–Edmonton has a series that’s even right now. Strange but true, folks. The Blues still have something to play for if they can turn things around right now; the Oilers, meanwhile, need to keep their caddies on short call. An Edmonton loss here would help every other team in the West. Edmonton’s playoff math is intriguing if they lose–in a very rubberneck sort of way–but otherwise, there’s a better game on tonight. Namely…

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS AT SAN JOSE SHARKS. Game 4 of 4. CHI leads by 2. It’s #1 versus #2 in a Western Conference throwdown. It’s a 4-point game, and you’d better believe the Hawks are going to give this one all they’ve got. San Jose has only lost four regulation games in the Tank this season, so the Hawks have their work cut out for them. San Jose could move to +22 against Edmonton for the first 1 West elimination, if they hold serve at home. Even then, forget the math–this is going to be great hockey no matter what the numbers say. Series possibility: SJS must win in regulation to tie, or CHI wins series.




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