A Look at the Math, 3/2 March 2, 2010Posted by CapitalSpirit in Uncategorized.
The stretch run commences in earnest tonight, with a dozen games to be played on the first day of full action following the Olympic break. Lots of typing to do, so apologies for the paucity of preliminary patter. Let’s get to it.
MONTREAL CANADIENS AT BOSTON BRUINS. Game 5 of 6. MTL leads by 2. No love is ever lost between these two Original Six foes, and it’s a great opening game for a busy night. Playoff math for this game isn’t exactly Nytol, but it sure isn’t No-Doz, either: MTL is -12 against WSH for President’s Trophy and 1 East. SERIES: MTL can clinch series with any win.
CAROLINA HURRICANES AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS. Game 4 of 4. CAR leads by 1. The math for THIS one, on the other hand, will be a pint of Red Bull for Caps fans. If the Maple Leafs can win this one, they’ll bring Carolina down to a mere handful of points from Carolina’s first elimination. However, any loss by Toronto would put the first C’s and E’s of the Eastern Conference on the board. So either Carolina gets that much closer to elimination from the 1 Southeast spot, or Toronto becomes the first team eliminated from the 1 East spot. CAPS FANS, PAY ATTENTION TO THIS ONE! SERIES: CAR wins with any win. TOR must win in regulation to win series. A TOR overtime win would tie the series. PLAYOFF CLINCH CAPITALS: Would clinch 14 East with any Toronto loss. PLAYOFF ELIMINATION MAPLE LEAFS: Would be eliminated from President’s Trophy and 1 East with any loss.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS AT NEW YORK ISLANDERS. Game 1 of 1. There’s no such thing as a foregone conclusion in hockey. Still, take a look at the head to head chart, compare these two teams’ series wins and losses, and try to tell me with a straight face that you honestly think the Islanders can win this one. NYI are -8 against WSH for President’s Trophy and 1 East.
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT ATLANTA THRASHERS. Game 6 of 6. ATL leads by 1. It’s a surprisingly early finish to a Southeast series, as the Cats and Thrash take a few parting shots. Jordan Leopold’s departure for Pittsburgh may end up meaning more in the room than on the ice. Leopold wasn’t exactly Bryan McCabe, but he was certainly serviceable on the back line. Panthers GM Randy Sexton appears to be waving the white flag by trading Leopold for a pick. FLA is -10 against WSH for President’s Trophy, 1 Southeast, and 3 East. SERIES: ATL wins with any win. FLA can win series with regulation win; series tied if FLA wins in OT/SO.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS AT COLUMBUS BLUEJACKETS. Game 4 of 4. VAN leads by 2. No rest for Roberto Luongo? Might Canada’s golden goalie end up dueling with his opposite 1, Steve Mason? The Jackets have been busy on the trade front: they dealt Jason Chimera to the Capitals a while back, made a minor deal with the Islanders on Monday, and are rumored to be shopping a few other players at the deadline. This season hasn’t gone well at all for the Jackets, after their first taste of the postseason last year. CBJ are -8 against WSH for President’s Trophy. SERIES: CBJ must win in regulation to tie series, or VAN wins.
NEW YORK RANGERS AT OTTAWA SENATORS. Game 4 of 4. NYR lead by 1. The Senators have been a pleasant surprise in the East, and they’ve been a tough out at home. But the Rangers are not about to let their season slip away, so look for some scrap from the tenth-standing Blueshirts. New York’s toughest opponent right now may be the schedule: they only have 40 points available for the balance of the season, and they’re already going to need some help down the stretch if they want to make it into the second season. While it’s a little early to be calling every Rangers game from here to the end a must-win, the Rangers definitely don’t have much room right now for coulda-woulda-shoulda. NYR are -13 against WSH for President’s Trophy and 1 East. SERIES: NYR win series with any win; OTT win series with a regulation win; series tied if OTT wins in overtime.
BUFFALO SABRES AT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS. Game 4 of 4. PIT leads by 1. Miller versus Crosby, deja vu all over again? No such luck–the Sabres announced on Monday that Patrick Lalime would get the nod tonight. It’s a shrewd move for Lindy Ruff, getting Lalime back into the flow of the game, while resting Miller up (I have to believe) for Wednesday night’s home joust with the Capitals. PIT is +15 against TOR for 14 East. SERIES: PIT wins with any win; BUF wins with a regulation win; series tied with a BUF win in overtime.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING. Game 4 of 4. Off game; PHI has clinched series. Tampa Bay doesn’t have much wiggle room left in its schedule; meanwhile, the Flyers are looking to improve their playoff standing. I think the Flyers will make the playoffs, even though both of their numbers are in the 20’s. They’re not likely to finish first overall: they’re currently -21 against Washington for the top spot. But they’re -34 for the 2 East spot, so they do have room along the top line. However, once they get past Toronto, the lower spots are much closer together. If you really want to get technical, the Flyers are +39 against Tampa Bay for the playoffs. So this game could put the Flyers less than three dozen points from the playoffs if they win it. TBL is -15 against WSH for President’s Trophy, 1 Southeast, and 3 East.
EDMONTON OILERS AT NASHVILLE PREDATORS. Game 4 of 4. NSH leads by 2. Chalk this season up to experience in Edmonton: the Oilers have already been eliminated from the 2 West spot, with more to follow in fairly short order. Meanwhile, in the Music City, the Predators are looking to make some noise in the postseason this year. So, what we have here is a team that’s in free fall, visiting a team that’s looking to improve its playoff lot. I have to wonder: will the Preds shred, or will the Oilers be spoilers? (Put away those tomatoes.) EDM is -8 against PHX for 3 West. SERIES: EDM must win in regulation to tie series, or NSH wins.
LOS ANGELES KINGS AT DALLAS STARS. Game 4 of 6. LAK lead by 4. The Stars are fighting for their playoff lives at this point, and they’re at home. If that’s not enough to get them firing on all cylinders, nothing is. LAK are +8 against EDM for 14 West. SERIES: LAK can clinch series with any win.
ST LOUIS BLUES AT PHOENIX COYOTES. Game 4 of 4. PHX leads by 2. Neither team can afford to lose this one. The Blues are an extremely long shot at best at this point, but they are not entirely out of it yet. But if they want a shot, they’ll have to earn it, and this is where they have to start doing that. Meanwhile, the Coyotes currently have the fewest games remaining of any team in the NHL, so they don’t have a whole lot of room to lose, either. PHX is +7 against EDM for 14 West. SERIES: STL must win in regulation to tie series, or PHX wins.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS AT SAN JOSE SHARKS. Game 1 of 1. The Shark Tank has been a very friendly rink for the home team. But if Martin Brodeur is in net for the Devils tonight, look out. He’ll enjoy that Olympic gold, to be sure. But you have to think he wants to exorcise that demon of getting benched in the Olympics, so he may end up playing like a man possessed. San Jose can take the overall NHL points lead away from the Caps with a regulation win; an overtime loss won’t do it, as they would lose the tie break on games in hand. I’ll root for the Devils tonight in good conscience. SJS are +9 against CBJ for 13 West.
BACK TO WORK