|(Photo via washingtonpost.com)|
The Race In The East
As of March 16th, only one spot is basically locked in. The Torterella coached Rangers are running away with the #1 seed and look to be the first 100 point team in the East. Everything from 2 to 8 is up for grabs due to the the divisional battles and surging teams. Like the NY Giants and their Championship run, you need to get hot at the right time.
Boston and Florida round up the top 3 in the East. The surprising Senators and rejuvenated Capitals are playing to change this. Thanks to the divisional format, 7th place Ottawa could jump into the 2 seed if they overtake the Stanley Cup Champion Bruins. Ottawa is 1 point behind the Bruins, who have 2 games in hand. The 8th seed Capitals are looking to move on up to the 3 spot currently occupied by the Florida Panthers. BTW The Southeast division is by far the worse in the league in terms of points per team. The Cats have 79 points for top in the division, with the Caps lurking behind by one point (and one more game played).
Buffalo has been on fire over the past 10 games, as they are fighting their way into the top 8. Miller has been lights out since the Sabres hit the West coast in February. His stat line for the past 10: 2.10 GAA, .935 SV %. Throw in a healthy lineup (Leino, Eerhoff) and you have a team with a purpose. Buffalo are 3 points behind 8th with 11 games left on the docket. Their chance to make the top 8 is currently 9.2%, so they need to win at least 9 games to guarantee that opportunity. If you don't know about sportsclubstats.com, it's a must for any sports fans (and where I got the previous stats). They provide team’s odds of making the playoffs, how today’s games impact those odds and how well they need to finish the season to have a shot.
The newly transplanted Jets are also in the running and are looking to make an impact. It would be a great story if they could make the playoffs to shake off their history of failure in Atlanta. So, keep your helmets strapped on tight, it's gonna be a great finish.
Teams That Are Good To Go
Pittsburgh Penguins (Crosby's back!!!)
New Jersey Devils
Teams That Are Warming Up Their Golf Carts
Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders
Tampa Bay Lightning