Mar 29, 2011, 4:07 PM EST
With the season winding down and the playoff picture sorting itself out, we’ll be taking a look at the night’s games and how they’ll potentially affect the playoff races. This is ProHockeyTalk’s “Race for the Playoffs.”
This post will detail the East games. Stay tuned for the West version later on.
1. Philadelphia – 100 pts (75 Games Played)
2. Washington – 98 pts (76 GP)
3. Boston – 94 pts (75 GP)
4. Pittsburgh – 98 pts (76 GP)
5. Tampa Bay – 91 pts (75 GP)
6. Montreal – 87 pts (76 GP)
7. NY Rangers – 87 pts (76 GP)
8. Buffalo – 85 pts (75 GP)
9. Carolina – 80 pts (75 GP)
10. Toronto – 78 pts (76 GP)
Here are the biggest games. Please note that we are spotlighting the most playoff-relevant contests rather than every single game tonight.
7:00 pm ET
Carolina @ Washington
For a full preview of this game, click here. The bottom line is that the Hurricanes need to close a five-point gap in seven games to take a playoff spot from the Buffalo Sabres. Meanwhile, Washington can focus on seeding in this game, as they can improve their chances of winning the top spot or at least the Southeast Division title with a win.
Buffalo @ Toronto
I listed the Maple Leafs in this post’s relevant standings, but the bottom line is that their chances are slim at best. Beating Buffalo in regulation would improve those long odds, although accomplishing that feat would probably be a bigger deal for the Hurricanes than the Leafs. The Sabres hope to avoid losing their third straight game against Toronto, so this is far from a sure thing, especially since it is a home game for the Maple Leafs.
Philadelphia @ Pittsburgh
As we discussed on Sunday, the Penguins could move into a virtual tie for the Atlantic Division crown – as well as the Eastern Conference’s top seed – with a regulation win tonight. It wouldn’t be a fully legitimate tie because the Flyers hold a game in hand, but it would certainly be a slim margin for Philly if that happened.
Perhaps the most interesting subplot might be that the Capitals, Flyers and Penguins could all finish tonight’s games with 100 standings points. For that to happen, Philly would need to lose to Pittsburgh in regulation while Washington would need a win.
7:30 pm ET
Atlanta @ Montreal; Chicago @ Boston
The Thrashers are probably too far gone for serious consideration, so the focus shifts to the Habs, who may be too far behind the Bruins for the Northeast Division title. Even if the Bruins might lose to a desperate Blackhawks team. The Canadiens must also worry about seeding, as they only own a tie-breaker over the seventh place Rangers and might even need to fight off the eighth place Sabres.
Ottawa @ Tampa Bay
The Lightning can keep their very slim Southeast Division title dreams alive, while also boosting their also-questionable chances of usurping the Penguins for the fourth seed. It won’t be as easy as it might look, though, because the Senators have been a pesky bunch lately.
- Report: Dion Phaneuf will face hearing for hit on Kevan Miller 86
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ 96
- Lecavalier out 3-4 weeks with non-displaced fracture in back 7
- Islanders players hold closed-door meeting after ninth straight loss 14
- Penguins’ Neal has phone hearing for knee on Bruins’ Marchand 89
- Shawn Thornton confirms hearing with NHL Department of Player Safety (Updated) 87
- Video: Penguins’ Neal knees Bruins’ Marchand 69
- Penguins announce Brooks Orpik ‘alert and conscious’ (Updated) 47
- Shawn Thornton: ‘People could probably criticize that I’m a little too honorable’ 78
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty 180
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (180)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (97)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (92)
- Bylsma: Sharks are NHL’s best, ‘with all due respect to Chicago’ (89)
- Penguins’ Neal has phone hearing for knee on Bruins’ Marchand (89)