Breaking down the Eastern bubble race

bruinsrangers.jpgLast night I chronicled the comparatively straightforward race for the Western Conference’s eighth seed. In the East, things are a lot more complicated; there are essentially four teams competing for the bottom three spots. The top team (Montreal) and bottom team (Atlanta) are only separated by five points. It’s close – really close – in other words.

Take a look at this fun little spreadsheet I made that summarizes the team’s remaining schedules, games against non-playoff teams (“softer games”), the games left against bubble teams and matches versus division title winners. It also includes useful information like the current/most points teams can reach and the current/maximum wins for each team. (From the Rink inspired the “maximum wins” inclusion and has a great rundown in its own right.)

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I considered leaving Montreal and Atlanta out of the scenario for wildly different reasons. The Habs have the most points, are tied with the Flyers for the most wins (39) and finish the season with a fairly manageable last three games. On the other hand, the Thrashers are on life support with the least points, wins and a brutal closing schedule.

To me, it’s really about the last two spots going to two of the Rangers, Bruins and Flyers. The home-and-home between New York and Philadelphia might not necessarily cancel those two teams out (what with “charity” points) but could work out nicely for Boston. Clearly, the Bruins are going to be rooting against overtime in those games. If I had to pick two teams I would go with Boston (beating Carolina, squeezing one more point out of the two other games for 88 points) and Philadelphia (beating Toronto, winning once in regulation and losing once in overtime for 89 points). Then again, the Rangers have four games left and Henrik Lundqvist. Who knows.

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    Ulf Samuelsson leaves Rangers, takes Carolina’s AHL gig

    Ulf Samuelsson, Alain Vigneault
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    The ‘Canes made a fairly big coaching splash on Tuesday, announcing they hired New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson to become the new bench boss in AHL Charlotte.

    “Ulf has built a very strong coaching resume during a decade behind the bench in the AHL, NHL and Swedish league,” Carolina GM Ron Francis said in a release. “He has a proven history of helping to develop young players and understands the organizational culture that we are building here.”

    Samuelsson, who won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Francis in Pittsburgh during the 90s, has spent the last three seasons as Alain Vigneault’s right-hand man in New York, helping the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final in ’14 and the Eastern Conference Final last season.

    Prior to joining the Rangers, he spent two seasons as head coach for Modo of the Swedish Hockey League.

    Samuelsson will replace Mark Morris in Charlotte, after Morris accepted the head coaching gig at St. Lawrence University. Morris had only been on the job for one year, having inherited the position from former ‘Cane Jeff Daniels.

    Report: Marleau won’t face supplemental discipline for hit on Rust

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    It sounds like Patrick Marleau won’t be suspended for his hit on Penguins forward Bryan Rust (top) in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    After the game, Marleau told reporters that he was pretty confident he wouldn’t be suspended and it sounds like he’s right.

    Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t see things the same way.

    “It’s a blindside hit to the head,” he said. “[Marleau] gets a penalty and I’m sure the league will look at it.”

    Marleau was given a two-minute penalty for an illegal hit to the head on the play.

    Rust played a single shift after taking the hit, but he went to the locker room after that and didn’t return. Sullivan said he’s day-to-day. It’s unclear if Rust will practice with the team on Tuesday.

    Former Flyer Rick MacLeish passes away at age 66

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    Former Philadelphia Flyers forward Rick MacLeish passed away on Monday night. He was 66-years-old. The organization confirmed the news early Tuesday morning. MacLeish was battling meningitis as well as kidney and liver problems, per Philly.com.

    “With the passing of Rick MacLeish, the Flyers have lost one of their legends,” Flyers President Paul Holmgren said in a release. “A good father, grandfather, teammate and friend, Rick will be missed by all who were fortunate to come and know him over the years. His happy and friendly demeanor was front and center everywhere Rick went. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with Rick’s wife, Charlene, his daughters, Danielle and Brianna along with his grandchildren. May he rest in peace.”

    MacLeish first put on a Flyers jersey during the 1970-71 season. He would go on to score 349 goals and 759 points in 846 NHL games with Philadelphia, Hartford, Pittsburgh and Detroit. MacLeish also scored what is considered to be the most important goal in Flyers history when he netted the opening goal in Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final against Boston. The Flyers would clinch their first Stanley Cup that night.

    He won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Flyers and was named an NHL All-Star three times in his career.

    PHT Morning Skate: Nick Bonino has been pretty clutch this postseason

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Pascal Dupuis wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune.

    Matt Cullen also wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune called “Hockey Dad”.

    Dainius Zubrus is making his third trip to the cup final, but he still hasn’t won one. (Puck Daddy)

    –Watch the highlights from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Top)

    –Here’s the Punjabi call of Nick Bonino‘s game-winning goal. (Streamable)

    –Speaking of Bonino, he’s been pretty clutch this postseason:

    –The NHL still wants to play an outdoor game on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Ottawa Sun)