Tag: Eastern Conference playoff races

Buffalo Sabres v Winnipeg Jets

Jets win big bubble battle vs. Buffalo


The Jets might not be the most balanced team, but unless you’re a jilted Atlanta Thrashers fan, it’s pretty tough to argue with the magic they can conjure in Winnipeg.

Tonight provided another example of that special sensation. The Buffalo Sabres tied a tight game up 1-1 late in the second period, but it didn’t crush the Jets’ spirit. They wore down what seemed to be a withering Buffalo team in an impressive third period as Blake Wheeler and Chris Thorburn scored thrilling goals to generate a 3-1 win. (Cam Charron broke down the Jets’ impressive third period in a way that made my brain melt a little here.)

Bubble update

This game keeps the Jets healthy while bumping Buffalo’s shaky hopes down a peg. Here’s a quick look at the East’s bottom seed situation after Winnipeg’s win.

8. Winnipeg: 72 points, 32 wins (28 in regulation/OT) with 15 games remaining

9. Washington: 69 points, 32 wins (31 in regulation/OT) with 17 GR
10. Tampa Bay: 68 points, 31 wins (29 in regulation/OT) with 17 GR
11. Buffalo: 68 points, 30 wins (24 in regulation/OT) with 16 GR
12. Toronto: 67 points, 30 wins (27 in regulation/OT) with 17 GR

Note: you could probably reach for the New York Islanders too, but let’s keep it simple for now.

Looking at the standings, the Jets certainly made the Sabres a lesser threat tonight. Washington and Tampa Bay seem to bring similar strengths as challengers from a tie-breaker standpoint, with the Capitals holding a slight lead while the Lightning carry a lot more momentum.


Again, it’s charming to see the Jets make a real “go” of this run, but their road record is the elephant in the room. They’re not alone in the lowly Southeast, however, as the Florida Panthers are the only team with a respectable away mark (15 road wins) compared to 11 for the Jets, Capitals and Lightning.

As great as it would be for Winnipeg fans to see the team make it to the playoffs in its first season back in the NHL, that run could be awfully short if this home-road disparity doesn’t clear up.

Capitals flop again as Devils dominate them 5-0

New Jersey Devils v Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals still have a great chance to make the playoffs, but Friday stopped a momentum-building week with a thud. The New Jersey Devils slammed the door harshly on the Caps’ three-game winning streak, handing them a 5-0 defeat in another non-statement game for Washington.

Zach Parise got banged up a bit in the contest, but not before scoring a hat trick by the three-minute mark of the second period. It turned out that New Jersey would only need his first tally, which came on the power-play in the first frame.

Playoff implications

While the Philadelphia Flyers hold the tie-breaker because they have an extra game in hand, Philly and New Jersey are essentially tied for fifth place in the East with 77 points.

The Capitals squandered an opportunity to take Winnipeg’s eighth spot as the Jets remain ahead of them with 70 to the Caps’ 69 standings points. Washington still has two games in hand, but a loss like this could set up a photo finish.

It might not just be between Washington and Winnipeg, either. The Toronto Maple Leafs made a desperate plea to get in the mix by changing head coaches while the Tampa Bay Lightning just beat the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime to climb into 10th place with 67 points.

There’s still more than a month to go, but if the Caps fail to make the postseason, they’ll look at games like these will plenty of remorse.

Karlsson shines, Vokoun flops as Sens and Caps move in opposite directions

Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders

The hockey world can debate the merits of blowing the Washington Capitals up, but the team probably feels like Wile E. Coyote after a typical failed detonation right now.

The Capitals had their chances, but the Ottawa Senators took advantage of some great work by Erik Karlsson and another lousy outing by Tomas Vokoun to take a 4-0 lead that made life rather glum for Alex Ovechkin-less Washington. Vokoun was pulled for the second consecutive game and while Michal Neuvirth looked good and Washington saved some face (the final score ended up 5-2), it’s hard to find many positives for the decrepit D.C. denizens.

While Dale Hunter spoke of the need to “cover up” for Vokoun, the Senators are rejoicing in Karlsson’s explosive offensive season. The splendid sophomore Swede scored three points including two assists, setting a new franchise mark with 47 on the season. His 60 points leads NHL defensemen by a huge margin and Karlsson’s been particularly hot lately, with a dizzying five goals and seven assists in his last five contests.

Karlsson likely has a lot to learn in his own end, but his offensive production might just make him the new Mike Green (without all the baggage of blame, at least right now).

Standings update

This marks Ottawa’s fourth win in a row, placing them comfortably in seventh place in the East with 72 points. In fact, they’re currently tied with the Northeast Division-leading Boston Bruins with those 72 points and are only two points behind the New Jersey Devils for the fourth seed.

Of course, they’ve played five more games than Boston (62 GP to 57) and three more than New Jersey – so they appear larger in those squads’ rear-view mirrors than they actually are – but Ottawa is making some serious noise either way.

Washington, meanwhile, is uttering a mere whimper. They’ve lost three games in a row and now find themselves two points behind the Winnipeg Jets (65 to 63) for ninth place, although they do have two games in hand. They also trail the eighth-place Toronto Maple Leafs by two points but don’t have those games in hand, so this was yet another missed opportunity for Washington.

Here are highlights of the contest:

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