Though the Panthers and/or Senators could still collapse, odds are the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference will go to either Buffalo or Washington. Each team has five games left and the Sabres sit two points up on the ninth-place Capitals, though the Caps would get the nod if there’s a tie.
Here’s how it breaks down.
— Two home games, but only one “easy” one (Toronto).
— The Leafs haven’t won at home since Feb. 6.
— It’s likely the Bruins and Flyers will have nothing to play for.
— Two home games, one “easy” (Montreal), the other (Florida) more winnable than Buffalo’s game versus the Penguins.
— The Caps’ “easy” road game (Tampa Bay) is tougher than the Sabres’ “easy” road game (Toronto)
— It’s likely the Rangers and Panthers will have nothing to play for.
Buffalo’s last 10 games:
Washington’s last 10 games:
— Buffalo has a 68.1% chance of making the playoffs
— Washington has a 37.1% chance of making the playoffs
Feel free to make predictions in the comments section. I’ll take the Sabres, so it’ll probably be the Caps.
The Los Angeles Kings and Mike Richards may be nearing a settlement in their dispute over Richards’ terminated contract, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is reporting.
You can read the report for all the details, but we’re sure curious about this part:
If a settlement is reached, there’s no word yet on what salary cap penalties the Kings would still face. There’s bound to be something, but not likely as onerous as the full value of Richards’ contract, which carries with it a cap hit of $5.75 million. If there’s a settlement, Richards would undoubtedly become a free agent though there’s no telling at this point what monies he would be entitled to from the Kings in a settlement.
The issue here is precedent, and what this case could set. The NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door, and many are adamant that that’s what the Kings were attempting to do in Richards’ case.
The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.
“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.
“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”
While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.
“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”
Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?