Always important, but even more for Metro and Central this season as we close in on playoffs and fireworks are going off everywhere. To the naked eye it looks like a 3 team battle for 8th in east, but in reality is it more of a race against the clock. Both New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets have lost key pieces and watched as what was 22 and 18 point cushions on 9th turn to 10 and 6 on 9th and 10th in less then a week. With that Desperation comes DirtyJoe taking an easy win vs Penguins who they have been trying to run down for some time now. With proof of search starting around 10:42 pm for game 2 Joe was quoted as saying "sorry, not my call" as he took the easy way out, realizing that Pittsburgh had won 14 of its last 17 and just came off a big win vs the top Hurricanes, may have been a factor as desperation sets in for the Rangers Captain. In the west it is a battle for who stinks the least, and a warm (you don't need to be hot to get 3rd in Central) Dallas has taken 7 of the last 10 and 4 straight to push Nashville, Minnesota and Chicago to the edge. I am not going to look at match-ups, just odds and what they need to get in today, so lets break it all down ...
Detroit, Toronto, and Florida all have already clinched all 3 of there given spots.
Washington and Carolina are locked into the top 2, then it gets fun. Isles who at one point were quoted as saying "I can lose every game the rest of the season and stay ahead of Pitt" - Trevoranvan, might be eating those words very soon as that 20 point lead has quickly fallen to 6 on Pittsburgh and 4 on Columbus. Throw in a New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers team who could still get into this race, but conventional wisdom says if you need to make up more points then games remaining it is a long shot, and this could pretty much be the craziest finish. Probably the most fun part of this race is the trends, in the last 10 games 3rd place Isles have won 1 game, 4th place Jackets just 3, 5th place Pittsburgh 7, and 6th place Flyers 8 If you project that to continue for next 10 that would mean Pittsburgh 98, Flyers 96, Jackets 92, Islanders 92, basically flip flopping spots and changing the entire playoff picture.
Points (All teams have 72 GP)
Last 10 games
Games left (Head 2 Head in CAPS)
Strength outside head 2 head (Ave W% of teams NOT in this race)
New York Islanders
Columbus Blue Jackets
New York Rangers
East Wild Card
Basically the top two teams who miss Metro will take these 2 spots, there is no Atlantic teams in any position to take these.
The red headed step child, the embarrassing fat girlfriend you try to hide from your friends, the wife who makes you carry her purse in the mall ... that is the Central Division outside of Jets and Aves. Dallas seems to have taken control with 4 games winning streak capping off a 7-3 run that has put them into the 3rd place spot. The big thing here is whoever gets the 3rd spot will have a worse record then half the teams that miss the playoffs so it is gonna be 3rd seed or bust for these teams. I am not sure what is going on with standings, but there seem to be a lot of missing games in this division as well that keep me from really breaking it down as well as I did the Metro, but here is the fight for the 3rd spot ...
13 Games left
11 Games left
11 Games left
12 Games left
Like the Atlantic there is 0 doubt here Coyotes, Flames, and Canucks are in, but unlike the Atlantic none of the 3 have CLINCHED one of the top 3 spots yet, but all 3 have clinched playoff spots.
West Wild Card
West is again way different then the east in that wild card race is not related to division race in any way, but really is 3 team race for 2 spots with one of the 3 pretty much on cruise control. The Kings magic number to lock up a playoff spot is down to 3, but Vegas' once 12 point edge on Anaheim has dropped down to 5 and this could get interesting, Circle this Wednesday at 9:30 as what should be game of the night, if Vegas wins they hold a 7 point lead and tie breaker with 10 games left, if Ducks win 3 points are all that stand between them.