The New Jersey Devils didn’t have much to play for on Saturday, but their 4-2 win against the Ottawa Senators made tonight more interesting – especially for the Washington Capitals.
To keep things simple, here are the scenarios for the Capitals, whose game against the New York Rangers airs on NBC Sports Network tonight:
Washington could win the third seed if: the Capitals win and the Florida Panthers (at Carolina) lose in regulation.
Capitals could move up to seventh place if: they beat the Rangers in regulation, overtime or via a shootout. (Washington holds tiebreaker advantages against Ottawa.)
Capitals would stay in eighth place if: Florida gains one point, Washington fails to win or both. (The Capitals hold a tiebreaker advantage over the Panthers but Florida has a two-point lead.)
In other words, there’s plenty to play for tonight. And if you ask John Tortorella, the Presidents’ Trophy is worth something to the Rangers, so don’t expect New York to roll over at Madison Square Garden.
(Note: if Washington does win the Southeast Division, Ottawa would remain in seventh place while Florida would take the eighth seed.)
The NHL’s plan to realign teams into four conferences has been overwhelmingly positive. As with all things, however, there are some negative aspects lurking beneath the surface and for realignment, some of those worries are understandable. One big issue that comes into play is the NHL’s point system.
Without a doubt we’ll run into a situation where a fourth place team in one conference will have fewer points than a fifth or sixth place team in a separate conference leading fans of those teams to believe they got shafted.
The answer to those complaints will always be to “win more games” but in conference playoff races, a handful of points might make the difference. Just imagine what the reaction will be if say a team like Toronto, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, or New York missed the playoffs because they didn’t have as many overtime/shootout losses as the team ahead of them.
A team going to the playoffs because they made it to overtime more often than another one? Insanity. There’s no doubt the shootout is a gimmick that’s here to stay, but fixing the points system would alleviate these worries. The NHL should make it so all games are worth three points. Win in regulation and a team gets three, but if the game goes to overtime or the shootout, each team gets one point and the winner gets the third.
It’s simple enough, it works in International hockey, and it’ll ensure that coaches and GMs won’t have a coronary at the end of the season because they didn’t play enough overtime games. Teams don’t want the shootout to decide games or playoff races and making regulation wins worth that much more should be incentive enough to make it happen.
Each week at ProHockeyTalk we’ll have NBC on NHL’s Mike Milbury answers your questions on Ask The Expert to put you at ease with what you’re wondering about what’s going on in the NHL.
This week, Mike takes your questions from Tiffany Simons and discusses what the biggest obstacles are for the playoff hopes of the New Jersey Devils.
Mike also gives us his thoughts on just where he believes the Phoenix Coyotes will be playing hockey next season. If you’re hoping that Mike will play nice for everyone, you might not have the right state of mind when it comes down to it.