Tag: schedule analysis


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.