Here are the predicted NHL standings after last nights games.
Eastern Conference Predicted Standings
The race is still extremely tight in the east with 6 teams predicted to finish with between 89 and 93 points. Looking at each teams remaining schedules we find that those 6 teams play each other an awful lot.
Toronto(9): at Buf, vs Buf, vs Car, at Atl, vs Pit, at NYR, vs Phi, at NYI, vs Mtl
Montreal(7): vs Was, vs NYR, at Ott, vs Buf, vs Bos, at NYR, vs Tor
Islanders(9): at Phi, vs NYR, vs NJ, at Buf, vs Ott, vs NYR, vs Tor, at Phi, at NJ
Rangers(7): at Bos, at NYI, at MTL, at Phi, vs Tor, vs Mtl, at Pit
Carolina(8): vs SJ, at Tor, at Phi, vs TB, at Fla, at TB, vs Atl, vs Fla
Tampa(7): vs Ott, vs Fla, at Car, vs Was, vs Car, vs Fla, at Atl
If I had to handicap the race I would say that the Rangers are in the best shape as they have a fairly easy schedule but more importantly Henrik Lundqvist has been playing awsome in goal for them and Shanahan has returned from his concussion. I am fairly confident the Rangers make the playoffs. Tampa is in pretty good shape too but with their goaltending you can never get too comfortable. With DiPietro back I like the Islanders as a team but with 2 games against New Jersey and one each against Buffalo and Ottawa it won’t be easy for them to make up the ground lost while he was out. And then we have the Hurricanes, Canadiens and Leafs who need something to go right for them make the playoffs. For the Hurricanes they need someone to really step up and take control. Last year Staal was that guy but he has been pretty ordinary this year. If he can step up his game for the final two weeks then the Hurricanes have a chance to move into a playoff spot. For Montreal it is all about goaltending. They aren’t that good of a team so need top tier goaltending to be competitive. Halak has provided that the past few games and because of that they have remained in the playoff race but can he, or a soon to return Huet keep that pace up? If they can, they have a chance. For the Leafs it is all about smart, hard working team play and getting some secondary scoring after the top line. Kaberle returning should certainly help but O’Neill, Stajan, Steen, Battaglia, Devereaux, Pohl and Kilger have combined for 3 goals and 8 points in March and that is not going to cut it. They need to pick up their game for the Leafs to be able to grab a playoff spot.
Western Conference Predicted Standings
With a pair of wins against Detroit and Nashville the Calgary Flames are now in pretty good shape to hold on to the last playoff spot as Colorado has a tough schedule and a lot of ground to make up. The one positive for the Avalanche though is that they still have 2 games to play against the Flames. But they also play Vancouver 3 times, Nashville and a hot Minnesota team which is bad news for the Avalanche.