This is the final Atlantic Division snapshot of the season and once again, it looks like the division will be sending four teams to the playoffs. It's not guaranteed, but as of now, it's quite likely. No one in the division is playing tonight, so these standings will remain until after tomorrow night.
The Devils finish out the season in Ottawa and hosting Carolina on Saturday. Neither of these games will be easy. If the Toronto game showed us anything, it's that a non-playoff team can still effectively spoil New Jersey. Moreover, Carolina is the hottest team in the league with nine straight wins and the Devils have failed to beat them all season. We'd like it if the Devils would like to get into the postseason with some wins, all the same. But goal #1 should be securing the division.
|Team||GP This Week (H,A)||Potential Pts.||Last 5 Games||Conf. Position|
The New Jersey Devils are one point away from clinching the division. Philadelphia maxes out at 103 points and 46 wins should they win out this season. The Devils, with a superior number of wins, needs to get to that magical 103 number to clinch the division. Otherwise, Devils fans may have to do the undesirable: cheer on the Rangers. The Flyers need to keep winning to keep the division hopes alive. One loss and it's New Jersey's regardless of results.
Should the Devils get the division, they will most likely play the 6th seed in the East. The Devils are 4 points behind Washington with an equal number of games played, so the third position is all but confirmed. That's OK. There's only one potential playoff in the first round that the Devils would probably enjoy playing against, but Montreal can only reach 6th if the Penguins drop their last two games and Montreal wins (and that's not likely).
Two other Atlantic Division teams clinched the playoffs recently: the Flyers have punched their ticket and the Penguins continue their resurgence with that desirable X next to their name in the standings.
Should the Devils get that one point they need, we may have to, ugh, support the Flyers. Philadelphia visits the Rangers, visits Long Island, and then hosts the Rangers. With Our Hated Rivals hanging onto eighth place by 2 points, the Flyers need to mess them up in order for Florida to have their chance. (You hear that Cats? Make like a ska band and pick it up!)
Flyers fans, who should be visiting Broad Street Hockey and if not now then soon for Travis' playoff preview spectactular, should want their team to win out so they can hold onto home ice. It's not like they've been hot as of late. More important than that is their current position. The Flyers are only in fourth on the basis of one less game played than Carolina. The Hurricanes have the same amount of points right now and 2 more wins, giving them the crucial tiebreaker. Philly controls their destiny and, honestly, they should be able to get victories in all three games. Of course, I will be hoping otherwise should New Jersey fall flat against Ottawa tomorrow.
Penguins fans, who should be visiting Pensburgh, should be quite pleased with another playoff appearance. Earlier this year, with the injuries and the slumping and the frustration over an awful power play despite two of the top scorers in the league being on Pittsburgh, the playoffs looked doubtful. But the Penguins found their inner fire and kept it burning like Kenny Loggins. They get a nice way to end their season: hosting the Islanders first and then visiting Montreal. As it stands, as figured out by Hooks Orpik, they will most likely play New Jersey in the first round. A win would secure 6th place at the minimum. They could go higher; but that requires help in the form of the Flyers and Canes failing out. I don't think they'll leap frog either Carolina and Philadelphia, but it's not mathematically impossible.
Rangers fans, who should be visiting Blueshirt Banter, get nothing but the Flyers to end their season. A hotter end would make the fans feel better about the team, but with a record 2-3-0 in their last 5 makes it more dramatic. Unfortunately, it looks bleaker than it actually is in the standings. Since the Rangers have 2 more wins than Florida, the Panthers can't just tie them; so even one win for them would be enough to get into the postseason (and play Boston). The man at Blueshirt Banter says so in evaluating everyone's playoff possibilities. Can they get one over the Flyers, though? Maybe. Hopefully, they won't. (Again, GO CATS GO).
Islanders fans, who should be visiting Lighthouse Hockey, will enjoy Fan Appreciation Weekend at Nassau in their last two games. Though, I think the appreciation will be for the season being over! Fresh off getting run through the buzzsaw that are the Carolina Hurricanes in the team's worst ever loss in recent memory, the Islanders get to visit Pittsburgh, and then host the Flyers and the Bruins on consecutive days! Ouch! Clearly the toughest schedule to end the season within the division; and, on paper, there won't be much to smile about after those games! It's almost over, Isles fans, then you can start thinking about whether to address John Tavares/Viktor Hedman as Mr. Tavares/Mr. Hedman or Sir.