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.)
For much of the last month or more, the Boston Bruins’ biggest worry was losing their division lead to the Ottawa Senators. Now there might be concern that the Northeast Division title might not equal the second seed.
That’s because the current third-ranked Florida Panthers absolutely handed it to the Bruins tonight, beating them 6-2. That loss narrows the gap between the two teams to just two points, as Boston has 83 standings points and Florida has 81.
(Sure, the Bruins hold tiebreaker advantages that mean that the Panthers will almost certainly need to finish with one more point to take the second seed, but that doesn’t seem unrealistic right now.)
Of course, the bigger threat is losing the Northeast altogether. Boston has just one point and one game on hand on the Ottawa Senators, with the only good news being that the Sens have struggled a bit recently too (a pedestrian 5-3-2 in their last 10 games).
It might be too easy to point to Tim Thomas’ White House snub as the turning point, but either way, the unorthodox goalie has been struggling – which is especially troubling since Tuukka Rask is far from returning.
Thomas carried an atrocious set of March stats into tonight’s game (.852 save percentage and 3.74 GAA) and allowed six goals on 30 shots against the Panthers.
It’s not fair to lay it all on Thomas’ feet – surely Boston’s offense and defense carry plenty of blame – but the bottom line is that the Bruins need to figure things out fast or their mid-season domination will be nothing but a distant memory.