Tag: schedule analysis

Ryan Getzlaf, Brent Burns, Douglas Murray

Sharks open up path of most resistance with loss to Ducks


Losing to the Anaheim Ducks isn’t a season-killing disappointment for the San Jose Sharks. It doesn’t completely change their excellent chance to make it into the West’s top eight.

Still, when you look at the Sharks remaining schedule, this 5-3 loss was supposed to be San Jose’s easiest remaining contest. Every other match is against a team that’s either headed for the playoffs or desperately fighting the Sharks for one of the final spots.

Just look at the frightening stretch run for San Jose:

Tuesday: at Los Angeles
Thursday: vs. Boston
Saturday: vs. Phoenix
March 26: vs. Colorado
March 28: at Anaheim
March 29: at Phoenix
March 31: vs. Dallas
April 3: at Dallas
April 5: at Los Angeles
April 7: vs. Los Angeles

OK, so maybe one more game against the Ducks would theoretically give them a break, but they lost to Anaheim at home. What would make a road game against the Ducks any easier?

After that Ducks contest, the Sharks face five consecutive contests against Pacific division teams that will be battling them desperately for a playoff spot and/or the division title.

This regulation defeat technically bumps San Jose to 10th place, as you can see from this updated view:

7. Phoenix: 83 points, 30 regulation/OT wins and nine games left
8. Colorado: 83 points, 30 regulation/OT wins and eight games left

9. Los Angeles: 82 points, 30 regulation/OT wins and 10 games left
10. San Jose: 82 points, 29 regulation/OT wins and 10 games left
11. Calgary: 81 points, 31 regulation/OT wins and nine games left

Sharks fans should be excused for imaging what things would be like if this contest went differently. Even an OT/shootout loss would leave them tentatively in seventh place, yet this regulation loss dumps them to 10th.

The odds pour salt on the wounds

Sports Club Stats’ updated situation really kicks some more dirt into the faces of Sharks fans. Here are their odds for who will finish with the last few spots (and who will just miss):

Dallas (slight edge for Pacific): 65.8 percent chance to make playoffs
7. Los Angeles (60.6 percent)
8. Phoenix (60.2 percent)

9. San Jose (55.8 percent – down 14.7 percent)
10. Colorado (31.1 percent)
11. Calgary (28 percent)

Saving grace for San Jose

The one saving grace is the plus of that tough schedule: the Sharks control much of their “destiny” with a resounding three contests against the Kings and two matches against both the Stars and Coyotes. If they win the majority of those squabbles – particularly in regulation – then this loss will be looked as exchanging an alarm clock for waking up with a slap in the face.

Still, only the most stoic Sharks fan will claim that this didn’t hurt.

Blowouts deflate what’s left of Leafs, Bolts’ playoff dreams

Tampa Bay Lightning v Buffalo Sabres

If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs or Tampa Bay Lightning fan, you’d have to be very optimistic to carry playoff dreams into Monday night. After both teams were absolutely embarrassed, even the biggest dreamers can put those thoughts to bed.

Boston completes the sweep

Toronto can look back at – and Brian Burke might just base his firing upon – an absolutely embarrassing season series against the Boston Bruins. It seemed like whenever the Bruins needed a pick-me-up, they needed only to turn to Toronto, as tonight’s 8-0 thrashing completed a ridiculous sweep:

Oct. 20: Bruins win 6-2.
Nov. 5: Bruins win 7-0.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 3: Bruins win home-and-home set 6-3 and 4-1.
March 6: Maple Leafs actually complete but lose 5-4.
Today: Boston dominates 8-0.

To recap, that’s a 36-10 disadvantage, with two shutouts. (Tim Thomas only needed 13 saves for a goose egg tonight, by the way.)

If you want a more thematic explanation, Milan Lucic’s beating of Mike Komisarek is pretty symbolic, violent and fitting.

Buffalo douses Lightning

The Lightning won’t have the same regret when looking back at their games against the Buffalo Sabres, however. In fact, with Tampa Bay winning the previous three contests in regulation, Buffalo’s 7-3 demolition is more like revenge than the Boston-Toronto situation – which is essentially another ton of dirt kicked in Burke’s face.

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With the Washington Capitals holding on to win 5-3 against the Detroit Red Wings tonight, the Sabres are still behind the eight-ball in a tight three-team race for the last spot in the Eastern Conference. (Winnipeg’s last-minute fumbling loss to the Carolina Hurricanes from Sunday certainly doesn’t hurt matters, though.)

The race for eighth

Speaking of which, here’s what the East’s No. 8 race looks like now:

8. Washington: 80 points, nine games left (37 wins, 35 in regulation/OT)

9. Buffalo (won tonight): 78 points, nine games left (34 wins, 27 in regulation/OT)
10. Winnipeg (lost last night): 76 points, 10 games left (34 wins, 30 in regulation/OT)

The Sabres essentially rotate home and away games until the end of the season, when they face a tough duo of closing road games: at Philadelphia (April 5) and at Boston (April 7). In other words, if Buffalo makes it, they’ll get to the playoffs by earning it.

(Oh, and if you’re into odds, Sports Club Stats gives Washington a 73.2 percent chance to make the playoffs (up 9.9), Winnipeg a 16.1 percent shot (down 5.8) and Buffalo a 15.5 chance – up 2.5.)

Breaking down the race for East’s final spot after Winnipeg’s win


It’s looking more and more like every piece of the Eastern Conference will come down to an end-of-the-season battle.

The New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and maybe even Philadelphia Flyers have a chance to take the Atlantic/top spot in the East. The Northeast Division looks like a big jump ball between the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators.

While the Florida Panthers seem to be pulling away ever-so-slightly for the Southeast lead, tonight’s games only intensified the race for the conference’s final spot. The Washington Capitals had a chance to keep the heat on Florida and push the Winnipeg Jets deeper into playoff purgatory, but sticking to their season’s script, of course that didn’t happen as Winnipeg won instead.

Sure, it was an electrifying contest in the as-always charged-up MTS Centre, but the Jets’ 3-2 regulation triumph only muddies the picture. That’s great news for Winnipeg, Buffalo and maybe a couple teams with less realistic hopes and also fantastic news for fans of down-to-the-wire playoff races.

Here’s an updated look at the East’s race for No. 8:

8. Washington: 78 points, 11 games remaining (34 regulation/OT wins)

9. Winnipeg: 76 points, 11 games remaining (30 regulation/OT wins)
10. Buffalo: 75 points, 11 games remaining (26 regulation/OT wins)

(The East’s lower class is actually quite muddled and not that far off from a pure points perspective, but I’ll be honest; I don’t see anyone but maybe Tampa Bay posing a threat. Consult the full standings at your leisure if you disagree, though.)

If you’re interested in odds, Sports Club Stats breaks it down as such:

Washington: 66.3 percent chance to make the playoffs (down a whopping 11.3 percent with tonight’s loss)
Winnipeg: 28.9 percent chance (up 8.6 with win)
Buffalo: 9.3 percent chance
Tampa Bay: 2.8 percent chance

Schedule outlook

The Capitals have one game left against the Jets and one against the Sabres (both at home). The Capitals have six road games left this season versus five at home.

Meanwhile, the Jets have that road game against the Capitals but no contests remaining against Buffalo. They do have a rather unfriendly schedule, however, with a three-game road trip and four-game road trip remaining. Overall, just four of their last 11 contests are at home – which is an enormous factor for both the Caps and Jets (two teams with almost ridiculous home/road disparities).

Gut reaction

As excited and full-of-hope as Jets fans must be tonight, the Capitals have a significant set of advantages going their way at the end of this stretch run. It looks to be an exciting race for that eighth spot, though.

Senators take Northeast Division lead from Bruins

Ottawa Senators v Florida Panthers

Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins can’t seem to find answers for their struggles, but the Ottawa Senators have no plans to make life easier for them. The surprisingly effective team edged the Montreal Canadiens in a tight 2-1 OT win to take at least a temporary hold on the Northeast Division lead.

Filip Kuba scored the game-winner after Colin Greening tied the game early in the third period.

Here’s how the Boston-Ottawa standings situation looks right now:

Ottawa: 84 points, 10 games remaining, 37 wins, 32 in regulation/OT
Boston: 83 points, 12 games remaining, 40 wins, 33 in regulation/OT

Here is a quick look at how their schedules pan out:

  • The two teams have one game left against each other: an April 5 match in Ottawa, which will be one of the final contests of the regular season for each squad.
  • Ottawa plays its next two games at home, then plays four of five on the road before ending with two of three at home. Overall, they have five home and road contests left.
  • The Bruins play their next two games at home, then have a California trio of road contests. After that, it’s two home games against Southeast Division teams, two away contests against New York squads, then the Ottawa skirmish sandwiched between two home contests against teams who might be fighting for playoff seeding (Pittsburgh and Buffalo). Overall, the Bruins play six more games in Boston and six contests away from Beantown.


The Bruins’ games in hand give them an obvious leg up, but their four-game losing streak – all in regulation – doesn’t inspire the same confidence. Ottawa most likely will need to finish the season with one more point, although the regulation/OT tiebreaker isn’t out of reach.

It could very well come down to that April 5 game in Ottawa, but either way, it should be fun (except for especially nervy Bruins fans, perhaps).

With all that in mind, who do you think will take it?

Flames beat Jets, make both bubbles more interesting

Montreal Canadiens v Calgary Flames

With a 5-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets, the Calgary Flames squeezed five out of a possible six points out of their five game homestand and made things more interesting in both conferences’ bottom seed races. (They also helped Miikka Kiprusoff hit the 30-win mark for the seventh season in a row, according to The Associated Press.)

West update

As you can see, the Western Conference playoff bubble got awfully congested thanks to the Los Angeles Kings’ recent failings and Calgary’s persistence. Here’s what the lower ranks look like right now:

7. Phoenix – 76 points with 14 games remaining
8. San Jose – 75 points with 16 GR

9. Calgary – 74 points with 14 GR
10. Los Angeles – 74 points with 14 GR
11. Colorado – 74 points with 13 GR

12. Anaheim – 68 points with 14 GR
13. Minnesota – 68 points with 14 GR

You could probably drop the Ducks and Wild out of the discussion, but just in case, I placed them in the “snowball’s chance” group.

Moving on, Sports Club Stats reveals that tonight’s games improved Calgary’s playoff odds by 8.7 percent (at ninth place/35.3 percent) while dropping the Kings by 11.4 percent to 10th (31.4 percent). That site’s numbers are strongly in favor of three Pacific Division teams making the playoffs at the Flames’ expense – Dallas (85.9 percent), San Jose (74.8) and Phoenix (60.5) – but the bottom line is that Calgary is in a great position to earn a berth if one or more those teams falter.

Winnipeg’s shaky road

The Jets continue to struggle on the road, bumping their away record to 11-19-4. As I’ve mentioned before, their home dependence basically matches every Southeast Division team aside from Florida as Washington and Tampa Bay have also only won 11 road games.

From their perspective, a playoff spot basically comes down to either winning the division or taking the eight seed, which very well might come down to besting another team in the Southeast:

“3.”Florida (currently third seed by default) – 75 points with 15 games remaining
8. Washington – 72 points with 15 GR

9. Winnipeg – 72 points with 13 GR
10. Buffalo – 70 points with 14 GR
11. Tampa Bay – 69 points with 15 GR
12. Toronto – 67 points with 15 GR

As you can see, losing to the Flames hurts the Jets badly. They could be in eighth place while trailing the Panthers by a mere point for the division (albeit with two fewer contests left). Instead, they’re in a tough spot, as Sports Club Stats bumped their playoff odds down a jarring 10.9 percent to 28.7 percent, well behind Washington’s 56.4.


Tonight’s match clearly had some significant implications, but the Flames and Jets likely have plenty of big challenges left – we’ll just have to see if those obstacles extend beyond April 7.