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.)


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.

Teuvo time: Teravainen to open with Toews, Hossa

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six
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Teuvo Teravainen has played both center and right wing over the course of his brief NHL career.

Now, he’s got a new position — left wing — and a pair of shiny new linemates to boot.

Teravainen will open the year playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, per the Sun-Times.

The move could be a boon for the young Finn. Several ex-Chicago wingers thrived playing alongside Toews and Hossa, most notably Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of production Teravainen, who just turned 21 last month, can manufacture on Chicago’s top line. His numbers from last year weren’t spectacular (nine points in 34 games), but he did a solid job of racking up points en route to the Stanley Cup, with 10 in 18 games.

It’ll also be interesting to see how long he sticks with Toews and Hossa.

Head coach Joel Quenneville has been known as a frequent user of the line blender, often switching up his combos at at moment’s notice.

That said, Quenneville is hoping to find some stability with this new-look group.

“[Teuvo will] play there to start the season,” he said. “Hopefully, all year.”

‘Great story’ Janmark surprises, makes Dallas roster

Brian Elliott, Mattias Janmark-Nylen
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Pretty cool story out of Texas, where Mattias Janmark, the 22-year-old rookie that’s played a grand total of nine games in North America, has defied the odds to make the Stars’ opening-night roster.

“It’s a great story,” Dallas GM Jim Nill said, per the Morning News. “We really only planned to have him here for maybe two preseason games and then send him back. But he just kept being one of the best players out there, and he changed our minds.

“It’s a great example of what you can do if you just play hard.”

Nill acquired Janmark, 22, from Detroit at last year’s deadline as part of the Erik Cole trade. Nill was familiar with the Swedish forward from his time with the Wings — he was part of the front office team that drafted Janmark in ’13 — but didn’t think the deal would pay such immediate dividends.

As for Janmark, he didn’t even think he’d be in North America this year.

He has a contract with SHL club Frolunda, where he scored 36 points in 55 games last year. Given he’s barely played in the AHL — a few games with Grand Rapids, a few with Texas — Janmark figured he’d be back in Europe this season.

His strong play in the exhibition season changed all that. Janmark beat out two of Dallas’ touted prospects — former AHL rookie of the year Curtis McKenzie, and ’12 first-rounder Radek Faksa — for a roster spot, and showed good chemistry with third-line center Cody Eakin.

Janmark also performed well on a line with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.