NHL playoffs update: Just win baby

You had to know it wasn’t going to turn out easy. Nothing about the race for the final three spots in the Eastern Conference has been easy nor logical, so of course there was no way the Flyers would beat the Rangers tonight to finalize the East field. Of course the Rangers would win, and do so in regulation, to make things even tighter and even more butt-clenchingly silly for the Flyers, Bruins, and Canadiens.

With all that said, here’s how the Eastern Conference playoff race looks now:

6 Boston Bruins 80 37 30 13 87
7 Montreal Canadiens 81 39 33 9 87
8 Philadelphia Flyers 81 40 35 6 86
9 New York Rangers 81 38 33 10



That sets the table for tomorrow night with two huge games that will put the onus on both the Bruins and Canadiens to do something different. They’ll actually have to win a game if they want to get in the playoffs. The team with the most seeming leeway is the Bruins as they’ve got two games left. A win over Carolina tomorrow would lock up a playoff spot for the Bruins as they’d have 89 points and the only other team that can hit that mark is Montreal. A Boston loss in regulation or overtime puts the Bruins in the unenviable position of having to get a point against Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals on Sunday afternoon on NBC.

The Habs are in the unenviable spot of teetering on the edge. Should the Maple Leafs beat the Habs in regulation, they’ll be sweating out the Rangers-Flyers brawl-for-it-all on Sunday afternoon as a Rangers win in overtime or shootout would then eliminate Montreal from the playoffs. If Montreal was able to just make it to overtime against Toronto, that would ensure a spot in the playoffs for the Habs.  All of these “loser” possibilities have to be counted upon because asking anyone to, you know, actually win their way into the playoffs seems to be like asking for the moon as a gift.

The Rangers-Flyers game on Sunday afternoon sets up to be a winner-take-all game with a playoff spot on the line.  Both teams can still make the playoffs if the Bruins earn zero points this weekend and their game on Sunday goes to overtime.

Confused yet? Good. The key here for everyone involved is to just win, or in the case of the Canadiens, just get a single stinking point. The Bruins could make the playoffs just by going to overtime twice. Yes, I know, this is a daunting task to ask of all these teams. This is why we can’t have nice things out East.

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    Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

    Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello
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    For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

    The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

    They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

    It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

    Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
    Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
    Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
    Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

    Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

    This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.

    Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

    Mike Babcock
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    Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

    As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

    The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

    This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

    Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

    Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: