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A Look at the Math: 2/2/10 February 2, 2010

Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.

Somebody has to say it today: shoot the damn groundhog, already. This winter sucks.

Nine games around the circuit tonight, one of which involves the Caps. I know that there are some who might just be wondering what the Caps need to do to mathematically lock up the Southeast Division title, and I am going to elaborate on that further down–no fair skipping ahead.

All magic numbers and head to head results are accurate through start of play Monday night.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS AT BOSTON BRUINS. Game 2 of 4. WSH leads by 2. I’m not gilding the lily by attempting to add any more hype to this game. Caps are playing for history; Bruins are playing to avoid being on the wrong end of said history. Find some fellow Caps fans to watch this game with tonight. WSH is +17 against Toronto for 14 East.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS. Game 2 of 4. NJD lead by 1. The Devils have skidded a bit lately, and would love to take advantage of a Leafs squad that’s still jelling after Sunday’s wheeling and dealing. Could the newest Leafs look to impress in their first game in front of their new fans? You have to think so, even if the standings make this look like a walkover going in. Toronto is -16 against San Jose for the President’s Trophy. Either team’s victory would help the Caps, but a little more breathing room would be appreciated–go Leafs go.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING AT ATLANTA THRASHERS. Game 5 of 6. TBL lead by 2. Here’s a bit of intra-division squabbling which will only work to the Caps’ advantage. Both teams are separated by a single point along the top line, and the smallest magic number is TBL -30 against San Jose. But look how close the Caps are to San Jose in terms of Current Points, and hold that thought for now. As to the Bolts and Thrash, well, Southeast rivalries may not exactly be compelling stuff outside the division, but they’re quite compelling to the players and fans within the division. Expect a hard-fought game, and potentially some chippy play. Caps fans should root for a regulation win, regardless of team.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS AT MONTREAL CANADIENS. Game 2 of 2. VAN leads by 2. Montreal is one of the bottom five teams in the East in terms of goals scored, and Vancouver has Roberto Luongo in net. ‘Nuff said? MTL must win to force a tie, or VAN wins series. VAN is +26 against Edmonton for 14 West and 4 Northwest.

PHOENIX COYOTES AT NASHVILLE PREDATORS. Game 2 of 4. PHX leads by 2. Nothing really exciting about the math in this game. Series is still in play, smallest number is PHX +25 against Edmonton. The Coyotes have been doing better in their last ten, but Nashville is finally getting some home cooking this week after spending most of January living out of their suitcases.

MINNESOTA WILD AT DALLAS STARS. Game 3 of 4. Series tied. Ah, Minnesota’s current team against Minnesota’s old team–kind of an NHL version of Ravens-Colts (or Ravens-Browns, for that matter.) Still lots of hockey left to play before either team’s fate is decided. But a regulation win by the Wild would mean the two squads would exchange places on the Magic Numbers table, since Minnesota’s games in hand would give it a top-line edge. MIN is -31 against San Jose for the President’s Trophy.

COLUMBUS BLUEJACKETS AT COLORADO AVALANCHE. Game 4 of 4. COL has clinched series. Colorado looks to put a halt to their three-game skid as they host 14th-place Columbus. CBJ are -22 against San Jose for the President’s Trophy.

NEW YORK RANGERS AT LOS ANGELES KINGS. Game 2 of 2. LAK lead by 2. New York versus LA. Fifth Avenue versus Rodeo Drive. Brooklyn Bridge versus Sunset Boulevard. The Sopranos versus Alias, if you really want to stretch it a bit. (And Alias was the better show, dagnabbit!) Civic pride makes this one compelling, math does not. NYR must win in regulation to tie, or LAK win series. LAK are +27 against Edmonton for 14 West.

DETROIT RED WINGS AT SAN JOSE SHARKS. Game 3 of 4. DET leads by 3. The Caps-Bruins game will have wrapped by the time this one gets underway, so the Sharks will know whether or not they must win this game to hang on to the #1 spot in the NHL. But the Red Wings have won both meetings so far this year, so this could go either way. Series: DET can win series with any win.

Now, as promised, a look at where the Caps stand with respect to the Southeast Division title. Not to jinx it, mind you, but I have been asked, so here goes. Entering Monday’s games, the Caps have 80 points, and the highest remaining top-line score in the Southeast is Atlanta, with 112. That works out to a magic number of +32 to clinch the division. The Caps have 27 games remaining, and, theoretically, could go 16-11 the rest of the way and clinch the division. But even THAT is an overstatement, because that assumes Atlanta runs the table for the balance of the season, and that’s not going to happen. I’m not going to speculate any further in print for the time being: I’m just going to reiterate that the current magic number for the Caps to clinch the Southeast Division, heading into Monday night’s games, is +32.

Hope to find some friends to see the game with tonight.




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