There are only four weeks left in the schedule so the playoff races are getting down to crunch time with teams having between 12 and 14 games left to play.
Eastern Conference Predicted Standings
|Pred Pts||Total Pts|
The race is still extremely tight in the eastern conference. Buffalo, New Jersey, Ottawa and Pittsburgh should easily make the playoffs while Atlanta, Tampa and the Islanders are in pretty good shape. The Rangers currently look to be int he best shape for 8th spot with by far the easiest schedule of any in the group looking for that final playoff spot but Toronto and Carolina are right on their tails with Montreal,, Boston and Florida needing to go on a hot streak to realistically get back in the race.
The good news for Leaf fans is they just came through an extremely tough period of their schedule (Buf, at NJ, Buf, Was, Ott, Ott) and managed to stay in the race. They have an easier week this week with games against Tampa, Washington and Montreal followed by a tough week next week with a game against New Jersey and a pair against Buffalo. After that they finish the season with Carolina, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Rangers, Philadelphia, Islanders and Montreal. The games against Carolina and the Rangers could be huge.
It could be a tough week for the Hurricanes with a game against the suddenly red-hot Florida Panthers tomorrow followed by back to back games against the Devils on Thursday and Saturday. The Rangers have a tough game against the Senators tomorrow night then play Atlanta Friday and Boston Saturday.
The only good news for the Montreal Canadians is that they play both the Leafs and the Rangers two more times this season as well as Boston 3 times and Washington once. But they desperately need to start playing some good, consistent hockey if they want to turn their freefall around.
The Bruins are in much the same situation as the Canadiens but they have to make their move in the next two weeks because the end of their schedule is very tough. This week they play Washington and the Rangers followed by Montreal twice and the Rangers again next week. If they don’t get right into a playoff spot with those 5 games it will be tough to gain ground with Pittsburgh twice, Ottawa twice, Atlanta, New Jersey Montreal and Buffalo to play in the final 2 weeks of the season. Ouch, that’s a tough way to end the season.
The Panthers meanwhile are 9-2-2 in their last 13 games to keep their remote playoff hopes alive. They have 3 games left against Carolina which will be huge for them. They have a mixed schedule otherwise with some tough games against Ottawa, New Jersey and Buffalo but some easier games against Washington (twice) and Philadelphia.
All in all, it should be an fun race to the finish line.
Western Conference Predicted Standings
The western conference playoff race is all but over. Only a miracle will save the Avalanche now. But there are some good playoff positioning races. Nashville and Detroit are fighting it out for top spot in the central division. Anaheim seems pretty secure in the pacific division title race but are in a dogfight with Nashville and Detroit for the conference title. Meanwhile, the northwest title is far from settled as well with Vancouver holding a slight edge over Minnesota and Calgary.