With the Pens having just 6 games remaining in this lockout-shortened season, we figured now would be a good time to look at potential playoff scenarios in the Eastern Conference. We aren’t gypsy women, so our predictive abilities may be off a bit, but hey, that’s the fun in sports, right? So, without further adieu, here we go.
As of 4/14, here are the Eastern Conference standings:
At a not-so-quick glance, it becomes evident that the Pens magic number of points to win the conference is 8. If the Habs win their remaining 7 games in regulation or overtime, they will have 71 points with 30 Regulation/Overtime Wins (ROW), which is the first tie breaker. As you can see, the Pens currently have 29 ROW and can get a max of 76 points on the season. Boston is the only other candidate to push for the #1 seed. The fun part about these 3 teams right now in regards to the standings is that the Pens play both Montreal and Boston this week. Theoretically, the Pens can lose both games and still clinch the #1 seed, but they can do themselves some favors by winning both and letting those 2 tear themselves apart to win the Northeast Division.
For all intents and purposes, we are going to eliminate Florida, Carolina, Tampa, and Philadelphia from the discussion. Man, does it feel nice typing out Philadelphia. Though not mathematically eliminated yet, it would take monumental collapses out of a bunch of teams for even one of those 4 to make the dance.
So say the least, it’s a good thing the Pens have the Atlantic. At this point, you have to think the Pens win their 3 games at home. The Montreal game will be a brutal one in our opinions, but a win coupled with winning the other 2 at home will clinch the conference. Ideally, we want that. No way the Rangers stay in 8th place and frankly, we want nothing to do with the Rags in the first round. Going 3-3-o to end the season wouldn’t be the end of the world, but realistically, the Pens will probably at least win one of those 3 away games, probably in Jersey. So let’s just say they go W-OTL-W-OTL-W-W to end the season going 4-0-2 with 74 points. Can’t complain there.
The Habs are an interesting case. Obviously, the game on Wednesday is huge. But with the way Washington is playing right now and the rivalry that exists with Toronto, don’t be surprised at them dropping those 2 games, probably in OT or a shootout. Also, pretty sure the people of Winnipeg would slaughter their first borns to get into the playoffs. Montreal really hasn’t looked exceptional as of late and got beat 5-1 on Saturday in Toronto. So we’ll see. It’s not unrealistic to think they go W-L-W-OTL-W-OTL-L and finish with 65 points.
With the way the Caps have been playing and the renaissance of Alex Ovechkin, you’d be keen to suggest that the Caps have the Southeast on lock. Couple that with 4 of their last 6 at the Verizon Center and you’ve got yourself a match. But, again, Toronto isn’t some joke this year. Winnipeg is desperate and on a 3-game win streak. That said, they still sit 4 points behind the Caps. The Caps magic number to win their terrible division is just 4. We already have them winning in OT against the Habs and one would imagine they’d win at least one of the 2 against Ottawa, so we’ll say OTL-L-W-OTL-W-L to end the season with 53 points.
As you can see, Boston only plays 3 of their last 7 against teams in the playoff picture with 5 of those 7 being at home. The Bruins really seem to have the best chance to lock up that #2 seed, but this is also the same team that has had 2 chances to clinch a playoff spot in their last 2 games and have failed to do so. A win against the Pens Friday will really do them some good in pushing for the #1 seed. W-W-W-W-L-W-W to end with 68 points and winning the Northeast.
Honestly, we can’t see the Leafs being anything other than the 5 seed. It is what it is. W-W-L-L-W-W-W. That’d give them 61 points and their first playoff berth since 2003-2004, the longest active streak in the league.
The Sens remaining games will really put them to the test, but their resiliency all year may really be put on display. They definitely have some tough games, but they’ve battled all year to get to where they are, so why stop now? L-W-W-W-L-L-W, 56 points.
Looking at this, you just want to vomit. Six games remaining and the last 5 are on the road. You’d think the Isles were cooked until you look at their away record this year: 12-5-2. Sheesh. Assuming they don’t remember that they’re still the Islanders, they should make the playoffs. W-W-L-W-L-W, 55 points.
Again, we really don’t want to see the Rangers in the first round. They have a pretty easy schedule the rest of the way, so that plays into the Pens favor. L-W-W-L-W-W-W, 56 points. Same as the projection for the Senators, but the Rangers take the tie breaker, probably on ROW.
Honestly, we probably do kind of want the Jets to make the playoffs just to see what the atmosphere would be like up there. Not sure it’ll really happen though because they’re still the Thrashers and will lose to teams they should beat. They’ll probably just miss out, going L-W-W-L-W-W with 52 points.
Buffalo sucks. No idea how they are this “close” to the playoff picture, but they have no business there. Really hope they lose out, actually, just so we can see Ryan Miller cry.
But whatever, L-L-L-W-L, 44 points.
Remember when the Devils were threatening the Pens for the Atlantic early in the season? That was cute. Dickheadness aside, the Devils had a rough go at it this year. They were playing some really good hockey until Brodeur got hurt. Then, he came back and Kovalchuk got hurt. This team is nothing without those 2. Really going to feel bad for Kovalchuk when Brodeur retires, unless Kovy can play in goal too. OTL-W-W-W-L-L-L, ending with 47 points.
1) Penguins – 74 points
2) Bruins – 67 points
3) Capitals – 53 points
4) Canadiens – 65 points
5) Maple Leafs – 61 points
6) Rangers – 56 points
7) Senators – 56 points
8) Islanders – 55 points
9) Jets – 52 points
10) Devils – 47 points
11) Sabres – 44 points
So through our methods of attacking things blind, the top 8 teams as of 4/14 will be the 8 making the playoffs, but the bottom 3 will be slightly different.
1. Penguins vs. 8. Islanders
2. Bruins vs. 7. Senators
3. Capitals vs. 6. Rangers
4. Canadiens vs. 5. Maple Leafs
Trust us, when we were figuring this all out, we definitely didn’t plan for the match ups to come out this way. But if the Hockey Gods do exist, they will give us these. Habs/Leafs would be everyone’s wet dream outside of Toronto and Montreal residents. What a war that would be. Quebec would probably try to secede from Canada again after that. Caps and Rangers have a nice history of beating the hell out of each other in the playoffs. Bruins and Sens would be a nice little battle as well between division rivals. Pens should handle the Isles, unless in the 2 games played on Long Island, the Pens get mesothelioma.
Honestly, we hope we are right, naturally. That way WE CAN RUB IT IN ALL OF YOUR FACES! But who knows. If you’ve been reading us from the beginning and read our Eastern Conference Preview post from this year, well, we were a little bit off. Then again, so was everyone else so suck it.
Needless to say, the last 2 weeks of the season are going to be fun. Buckle up, baby. Go Pens.