It’s time for another predicted standings update.
Eastern Conference Predicted Standings
|Pred Pts||Total Pts|
A bit of a gap has opened up between 7th place Tampa and 8th place Carolina but the race for 8th spot is still extremely tight with Carolina, NY Rangers and Toronto all predicted to finish with 88 points, Montreal 87 and Boston 86. Even Florida is trying to pull itself back into the race. Strength of each teams remaining schedule is becoming critically important as it seems to be holding the Leafs and Bruins back a bit as both teams have games in hand on the rest of the pack while the Rangers benefit from the easiest schedule of the group of teams. Of the top 7 teams Tampa and Pittsburgh have extremely tough schedules and they must avoid any lengthy slumps because of that or else they could fall back into a playoff fight. The Penguins play Ottawa 3 times, Buffalo twice and New Jersey twice. They also play the Rangers 3 times, Boston twice, and once against Montreal, Toronto, Atlanta, the Islanders and Washington. They will have a lot to say on the playoff race. Tampa meanwhile starts a tough west coast swing with stops in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver this week. Three losses out there (and the west has dominated interconference games) and their playoff position is back up for grabs.
Western Conference Predicted Standings
The western conference playoff race is all but over with only playoff positioning left up for grabs and their are battles in all three divisions for the division title. Detroit and Nashville are in a tight battle for top spot in the central division and Vancouver, Calgary and Minnesota are in a dog fight for top spot in the northwest conference. Currently Anaheim has a bit of a lead for top spot in the Pacific division but San Joe and Dallas aren’t too far behind and both those teams improved their teams (at least theoretically) at the trade deadline while Anaheim didn’t so that could still turn out to be quite a race too. Calgary, Minnesota, Detroit, Nashville and Anaheim have exceptionally good home records so gaining home ice advantage in the playoffs could be a huge benefit for them.
(I leave it as an exercice for the reader to adjust the standings according to the playoff seeding rules if desired)