Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Morning playoff check-up

The Canadiens 3-1 win over the Rangers last night forced me to mix it up a little bit on the Morning Playoff Check-up. Gone are the Atlanta Thrashers and Tampa Bay Lightning, not because their playoff hopes are nonexistent, but because they are no longer threats to catch Montreal. The Rangers are still there, even though that loss left them seven points behind the Canadiens, a deficit I just don’t see them making up. But as the ninth place team, the Rangers are a reference point.

Replacing the Thrashers and Lightning are the Buffalo Sabres, currently leading the Northeast Division and only four points up on the Canadiens. The Sabres do hold three games in hand on Montreal, but with a 3-4-1 record since the Olympic break, that may not necessarily be an advantage for them. Also, Montreal has two games left with Buffalo, and the Sabres play five of their final six games of the season on the road against the Leafs, Habs, Bruins, Senators and Devils.

Montreal and Boston were the only winners on a night when every team on the board was in action. Buffalo lost 4-3 to Atlanta, Ottawa lost 4-1 to Toronto, Philly lost 4-3 in a shootout to Nashville (and lost Michael Leighton in the process), and the Rangers obviously lost to Montreal.

Tonight is a total blackout in the race as there are no games involving these teams.
Buffalo Sabres – Third place, 36-22-10, 82 points
Last night: 4-3 loss to Atlanta
Next game: @ Tampa Bay Thursday
14 games remaining, 6 against teams in playoff spot
Home (5) – Mtl March 24, Ott March 26, TB March 27, Fla March 31, NYR April 6.
Road (9) – TB March 18, Fla March 20, Car March 21, Bos March 29, Tor April 1, Mtl April 3, Bos April 8, Ott April 10, NJ April 11

Ottawa Senators – Fifth place, 37-28-5, 79 points
Last night: 4-1 loss to Toronto
Next game: @ Atlanta Thursday
12 games remaining, 5 against teams in playoff spot
Home (4) – Philadelphia March 23, Florida March 27, Carolina April 1, Buffalo April 10
Road (8) –Atl March 18, Dal March 20, Mtl March 22, Buf March 26, Was March 30, NYI April 3, Fla April 6, TB April 8

Montreal Canadiens – Sixth place, 36-29-6, 78 points
Last night – 3-1 win over New York Rangers
Next game: @ Toronto Saturday
11 games remaining, 5 against teams in playoff spot
Home (6) – Ott March 22, Fla March 25, NJ March 27, Car March 31, Buf April 3, Tor April 10
Road (5) – Tor March 20, Buf March 24, Pha April 2, NYI April 6, Car April 8

Philadelphia Flyers – Seventh place, 36-28-5, 77 points
Last night: 4-3 shootout loss to Nashville
Next game: @ Dallas Thursday
13 games remaining, 5 against teams in playoff spot
Home (6) – Atl March 21, Min March 25, NJ March 28, Mtl Apr 2, Det April 4, NYR April 11
Road (8) – Dal March 18, Atl March 20, Ott March 23, Pgh March 27, NYI April 1, Tor April 6, NYR April 9

Boston Bruins – Eighth place, 31-26-12, 74 points
Last night: 5-2 win over Carolina
Next game: v. Pittsburgh Thursday
13 games remaining, 6 against teams in playoff spot
Home (8) – Pgh March 18, NYR March 21, TB March 25, Cgy March 27, Buf March 29, Fla April 1, Buf April 8, Car April 10 
Road (5) – Atl March 23, NJ March 30, Tor April 3, Was April 5, Was April 11

New York Rangers – Ninth place, 31-30-9, 71 points
Last night: 3-1 loss to Montreal
Next game: v. St. Louis Thursday
12 games remaining, 5 against teams in playoff spot
Home (4) – StL March 18, NYI March 24, Tor April 7, Pha April 9
Road (8) – Bos March 21, NJ March 25, Tor March 27, NYI March 30, TB April 2, Fla April 3, Buf April 6, Pha April 11


Anonymous said...

listening to local radio here in toronto/buffalo, the sabres were becoming concerned BEFORE the Olympics that Ryan Miller was wearing down. He gave his all in the tournemant, obviously, but the worst fears of the local buffalo pundits appear to be coming true. Miller may be totally out of gas...first place baby!!

Anonymous said...

heard that pleks has called off negotiations until the end of the season. can any one figure out the math on how this could unfold?

would the habs have to move a big contract to take a big contract (Pleks). Say, we'll offer you one of our number one young goalies, but you also have to take...Hamrlik?

patience is a virtue said...

While I have been previously accused, in the comment section of this blog, of being a delusional osterich for my long held belief that the team Bob built is a contender, I want to add a note of caution this fine morning:

There is no 8th playoff spot in the East this year. Playing the Pens first round would also be highly undesirable.

We need to be playing hard for 5th or 6th. Facing Ovi & co or Sid & co with some confidence from a first round success is the only way to go.

Which makes the upcoming games vs. Buffalo and Jersey particularly important, not only from a points perspective. I view them as sign posts which may tell us which way this post season is heading...

One of the many things Bob gifted our 2009-10 Habs is playoff experience up front, on defense, and behind the bench. It's our goalies that concern me - they would be well served by the slightly less stressful first round that a 5th or 6th place finish would entail.

Arpon Basu said...

I wouldn't count out the Devils winning their division, they're only two points back with a game in hand and a big showdown looming in Jersey tonight. The Habs have played the Devils far better than the Pens this year, but the Sabres would be a better opponent either way. Montreal's playoff positioning remains completely up in the air, but at least we're talking about that and not whether or not they'll even make it. Frankly, I'm not sure anyone in the conference would want to face the Habs right now.