25 April, 2014


A Stretch Run That Could Yield a Southeast Facelift

Take a look at the records of these Southeast division teams in their last 10 games:

Carolina: 8-2-0; Washington: 7-3-0; Florida: 8-1-1

That’s a .766 winning percentage by the division’s top three teams in crunch time. All three have entered March as lions. These seem more like performances by Southbeasts than teams from the “Southleast.”
 Washington has wins over Nashville, Boston, Calgary, and Buffalo during its run. Carolina took down Ottawa (badly), Chicago, Minnesota, and Buffalo. Florida bested Boston, Pittsburgh, and the Rangers recently. It’s not like these three clubs have been feasting on bottom-dwellers. The result is that, whereas three weeks ago conventional wisdom had only the Southeast winner earning a postseason berth, today there’s serious talk of all three teams qualifying.
Likely that will prove difficult. All three teams, beginning this week, close out their schedules with Southeast-exclusive slates. With a sufficient number of “three-point” games between them, and with the backsliding Bs, the Flyers and Sabres closing out with conspicuously tough matchups, it’s conceivable, but odds are that at least one Southeast club will cool off coming home. Right?
The Southeast has a long, long way to go before achieving anything approaching the respect the East’s other divisions enjoy, but if it is able to qualify more than just its division winner for the playoffs, and if over the next two weeks we see some fantastically competitive and compelling games among the three contenders, it’s difficult to imagine serious hockey fans giving the division more of the back of their hands.
Maybe Alexander Ovechkin is going to raise more than just hockey’s profile in the District, and take his team’s division along for the fun ride as well.
Here’s a look at the way the season’s final half-dozen games break down for contenders for three playoff spots — 3rd, 7th, and 8th — in the East. We’ve identified games at “Toss-Ups,” “Likely Wins,” and “Likely Losses.”

Eastern Contenders’ Remaining Games- as of March 24
Team Date H/A Vs. Res Analysis Playoff Chances
Washington 3/25
3/27
3/29
4/1
4/3
4/5
Away
Away
Away
Home
Home
Home
Carolina
Tampa
Florida
Carolina
Tampa Bay
Florida
TU
LW
LL
TU
LW
TU
Three road games followed by three to finish at home, with the goal being to still be in the hunt when the team returns to Verizon Center. Intriguing storylines: AO may already have a Hart Trophy locked up, but if he carries the Caps to the postseason, that vote may be unanimous? Second: how will Gabby rotate his no. 1 netminders?
8th Seed?
Carolina 3/25
3/28
3/29
4/1
4/2
4/4
Home
Home
Away
Away
Home
Home
Washington
Atlanta
Tampa Bay
Washington
Tampa Bay
Florida
TU
LW
LW
TU
TU
TU
The Canes’ mission couldn’t be clearer: win four of their final six games and they’re assured of the Southeast division crown and the no. 3 seed. And they play four of the final six at home. Nothing’s guaranteed in this dogfight, but of the teams in this list Carolina seems most assured of a post-season appearance.
SE Div Champs?
Florida 3/25
3/27
3/29
4/1
4/4
4/4
Away
Home
Home
Away
Away
Away
Tampa
Atlanta
Washington
Atlanta
Carolina
Washington
TU
LW
LW
LW
LL
TU
The ‘Cats have some pretty smooth skating all the way until the regular season’s final weekend, when they play back-to-back on the road in Carolina and Washington. Seems imperative for them to win all four that precede . . . which is a tall order.
Golf in early April?
Boston 3/25
3/27
3/29
3/30
4/2
4/4
4/5
Away
Home
Home
Away
Away
Away
Home
Toronto
Toronto
Ottawa
Buffalo
NJD
Ottawa
Buffalo
TU
LW
TU
LL
LL
LL
TU
Seven games remaining, and not an easy-breather within. Especially trying trio of road games (Buffalo, NJ, Ottawa) to close out March and begin April. Patrice Bergeron is skating with the Bs but not taking contact — he’s an unlikely addition for the tough closing stretch, and the team will miss him.
Golf in early April?
Buffalo 3/25
3/27
3/28
3/30
4/1
4/3
4/5
Home
Away
Home
Home
Away
Away
Away
Ottawa
Ottawa
Montreal
Boston
Toronto
Montreal
Boston
TU
LL
TU
LW
TU
LL
TU
The good news for Buffalo is that they have seven games remaining. The bad news is that all seven opponents have winning records, and four of the games are on the road. It’s simply a very tough final stretch.
Golf in early April?
Philadelphia 3/25
3/28
3/29
4/2
4/4
4/6
Away
Away
Away
Away
Home
Home
NYR
NJD
NYI
Pittsburgh
NJD
Pittsburgh
LL
LL
LW
LL
TU
TU
Four straight road games in the middle of the Flyers’ home stretch — three of them against toughies the Rags, Devils, and Pens. The East’s most inconsistent team in the season’s second half has demonstrated a conspicuous inability to close out games. But they’re atop the heap of wanna-bes this morning, and their recent strong play rebounding from a near-crushing 10-game losing streak should carry them in.
7th Seed?


13 Comments

  1. CAPITOLg wrote:

    I grew up in New England and if I know the Bruins like I think I do the Capitals will get some help from them even if the falter a bit with the remaining games.

    24 March, 2008 at 11:08 am | Permalink
  2. bc wrote:

    Not only will the Caps need to win both games vs Florida, the Bruins must split their games vs the Sabres so that neither team clinches that 8th spot.

    24 March, 2008 at 1:48 pm | Permalink
  3. Rage wrote:

    Why is the Canes away at TB a LW and home against TB a TU?
    Thanks for putting all the schedules in one place. That’s really helpful.

    24 March, 2008 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  4. It’s as clear as day, Rage — it’s a letdown-trap game: at home against last-place after the high-profile matchup vs. Ovie and the Caps.

    24 March, 2008 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  5. b.orr4 wrote:

    Great chart. I agree that the easiest (and most likely) route to the playoffs is the 8th spot. Boston’s schedule is brutal as is Buffalo’s. My biggest concern is Florida. However, I’ve got a funny feeling that the Panthers are going to get pounced on by the Lightning tomorrow. I’ve been getting nervous about tomorrow’s game against the Canes since Friday night.

    24 March, 2008 at 3:35 pm | Permalink
  6. @Rage:
    Glad to oblige with the schedules. As for the LW-TU-LL ratings, we tried to identify trap-games like Pucks said, as well as home/away, back-to-backs, etc. Oh, and the obvious “who’s better?” element played a part. :)

    24 March, 2008 at 3:44 pm | Permalink
  7. JR wrote:

    If the Caps can’t make it, the reason will unfortunately be lackluster performance against their own weak division. I don’t subscribe to the Bettman theory on winning records. OT losses are losses and 12-14 against Tbay, Florida, Carolina and Atlanta stinks. As interesting as that chart is, now is not the time for scoreboard watching. The desperation level has to be win or else. Remember the Rockies last October?

    24 March, 2008 at 4:35 pm | Permalink
  8. I’m with you JR — and the whole idea of an OTL not showing up as a loss makes me twitchy.
    About a year ago I did a little number-jockeying to show how the OTL skews teams’ records, if you were curious:
    http://www.onfrozenblog.com/2007/04/25/when-is-a-loss-not-a-loss/

    24 March, 2008 at 5:00 pm | Permalink
  9. JR wrote:

    Right on OC. I think I’d rather just have it the way it used to be, but if not, then they need to go with the three points for all games system instead of having all these “Gentleman’s OT games.”
    On the bright side, one would hope the NHL would conspire in any manner possible to get AO in the playoffs. I mean, Bettman IS of NBA lineage.

    24 March, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink
  10. Dan wrote:

    Anyone know who gets the tiebreaker between the Caps and either Philly, Buffalo, & Boston?

    24 March, 2008 at 6:20 pm | Permalink
  11. NS2NOVA wrote:

    Based on tonights performance against the Islanders, Pittsburgh’s games against the Flyers should be marked as LW for Philly. How could the Pens lose 4-1 against the Islanders who are without DP in net, and have been on a losing skid for most of the second half of the season?

    24 March, 2008 at 11:04 pm | Permalink
  12. Andrew wrote:

    This should be updated each day, and depending on the outcome of the game between Buffalo and Ottawa, the Sens might need to be added.

    25 March, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  13. Bob wrote:

    This old Whaler fan, now Caps fan, would love nothing more than some WDC wins over the Carolina in the final stretch! We’re overdue for a “must win” victory.

    25 March, 2008 at 3:23 pm | Permalink