Mar 28, 2010, 8:30 PM EDT
The Eastern Conference’s lower seed situation is murky to say the least. The bottom three seeds could go to any combination of Montreal, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta or the Rangers. Some teams have better chances than others, but the 6th-seed Canadiens are only 6 points ahead of 10th place New York. With this muddy picture in mind, I thought, why not take a brief glimpse at the five contenders’ situations?
Each team is listed in order of their current (as of 7:30 pm ET) spot in the standings, in order of highest point total to the lowest.
Notes: Tied with Philadelphia for most wins among the five (37), a useful tie-breaker. Only has six games left this season. Current point total: 82
Thoughts on their schedule: Six games left (3 at home, 3 on the road). One game against five contenders. One back to back (at Philadelphia then at home against Buffalo). Overall, their schedule is manageable.
Streak: Lukewarm. They are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games but lost four of their last five.
Notes: Eight games remaining, current point total: 80
Thoughts on their schedule: Four games at home and four games on the road for Boston. Two games against Buffalo and Two at Washington. Might be lucky with timing against Washington, though, since the Caps will probably already have the top seed wrapped up by the time the two teams play.
Streak: Lukewarm. They are 5-4-1 in their last 10 but have won three of their last four (including two shutouts).
Notes: Their 37 wins could help them in the event of tie-breaker situations. The team might be in trouble in net, but that might be more of a playoff worry than anything else. Current point total: 80
Thoughts on their schedule:Three road games remaining. Plays against Montreal once and then finishes the season with a potentially huge home-and-home with the Rangers.
Streak: Ice cold. They are 2-6-2 in their last 10 and are on a five game losing streak.
Jump for the two bubble threats: the Thrashers and the Rangers.
Notes: Have managed to stick around the playoff race despite a six game losing streak in the beginning to middle of March. No major advantages from a wins or games played standpoint. Current point total: 78
Thoughts on their schedule: Their closing schedule is downright brutal. First they play against bad-but-hot Toronto and Carolina, then they play their last five games against the East’s elite. That’s two games in Washington, two games against the Penguins and one against the Devils. My guess is that will be the end of the scrappy bunch.
Streak: Fairly hot. Although their 5-3-2 streak isn’t mesmerizing, they’ve won five of seven and squeezed 11 out of 14 possible points in that stretch.
New York Rangers
Notes: Need every point they can get. Current point total: 76
Thoughts on their schedule: They have four games left on a rough six-game road trip. If they can scrape together enough points, their home-and-home with Philadelphia could be a huge deal.
Streak: Cold. They are 4-4-2 in their last 10 and have lost four of six. On the bright side, they’ve managed 3 out of a possible 4 points during the first two games of their aforementioned six game road trip.
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