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

Mar 16, 2012, 11:36 PM EDT

hamburglargetty Getty Images

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.

  1. ravenscaps48 - Mar 17, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    Did anyone else think that the officiating was favored towards Winnipeg? Byfuglien rolled Alzner into Vokoun on their GWG. Ovechkin was tripped/interfered with so many times that I needed my toes to count. Brouwer was Cross Checked in the middle of the circles with the Goalie Pulled. And that was just the final period! REF YOU SUCK!!!
    Tonight looked like the fix was in to try and help Winnipeg make the Playoffs in their return season. it really did. I hate to sound that way, but we “hook” their stick, he throws it in the air, and we get the penalty… 1.) That’s not a hook, that’s a stick lift 2.) WHERE WAS THE EMBELLISHMENT CALL? A hockey player has a firm grasp on their stick at all times, since when on a stick lift does a stick go flying 15 feet in the air?
    In Conclusion, Winnipeg Sucks! Their Fans are CLASSLESS, and their team CANNOT WIN ON THE ROAD… Good Luck to you Ass Hats, IF you make the Playoffs!

    • ravenscaps48 - Mar 17, 2012 at 12:20 AM …….. That link sums it all up!

      • pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

        This facebook link doesn’t work. Please re-post. I would like to see what some ignorant Caps fan would post. I’m so intrigued.

    • letangusespertplus - Mar 17, 2012 at 12:26 AM

      you sound like a loser.

      • ravenscaps48 - Mar 17, 2012 at 12:43 AM

        And you sound like a hockey fan that’s only watched the Penguins for seven years, you hack!

      • bmoreredfury311 - Mar 17, 2012 at 1:07 AM

        Plz go comment on the Cindy articles, you know you want to suck his pecker some more. You Pen fans are so quick to comment on things that don’t even matter to you, your glory boy is back, shut up and be happy, until you lose him once again…

        Anyways, Winnipeg got total home cooking and the refs have sucked all year long.. its extremely sad it takes the crowed looking for a call for the refs to make the call a few seconds afterwards and for Enstorm to be hold Carlson’s stick and there is no call, to get the go ahead goal. Either way their completely blind or complete and total bias. Congrats Jets fans you got two points on false pretenses. We’ll see you A’holes when you come to D.C.. WE ARE LOUDER AND BIGGER.. keep your heads up boys!!!

    • sippindasyzurp - Mar 17, 2012 at 2:44 AM


      GO JETS GO!

      • Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 17, 2012 at 10:02 AM

        Your team is in Phoenix

    • pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 10:58 AM

      Okay, just finished watching the replay of the game. Alzner, who I think is a good d-ovi was man, was owned by Big Buff on the GWG. Buff had the inside position at the top of the crease. Alzner tries to get physical with the 250 lbs. big guy and got swatted away like a mosquito on a Manitoba summer evening. Clean, simple hard working play. If you want to talk about bad calls, the penalty on Toby Enstrom was the worst call of the night. This led to the second Caps game tying goal. Enstrom gained inside position on the Caps forward and somehow hooked the Cap forward from being in front of him. Nonsensical call.

      Ovi was owned all night. I’m surprised Caps fans didn’t complain about the clean, old school hip check on Ovi by Clitsome in the third. Next shift Ovi gets flattened by Clitsome behind the net. Can’t forget about the weak d-play by Ovi on the Antropov goal. What wss he swatting at. Weak, just plain weak.

      GO JETS GO!!!!

    • pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      So the Caps have such great road prowess. 2 whole games better than Winnipeg. Amazing road warriors these Caps are.

      ravenscaps48, please use some facts when you leave this ignorant drivel of yours on a message board.

  2. kantnockdahustle89 - Mar 17, 2012 at 12:29 AM

    I watched the 2nd and 3rd period of this game and I will agree the officiating was some of the worst Ive seen all year. Home teams usually get the calls but I didnt understand the high stick w/ blood called a slash and why Stuart was not called for a clean head shot on Johansson(saw replay)? It seemed the Jets could do no wrong with obstruction and stick holding/lifting. They play again in a week…guess we will see then.

    • ravenscaps48 - Mar 17, 2012 at 12:40 AM

      Not to mention that Keith Aucoin got a high stick and was bleeding out of his lip and they called it a single minor not a double minor

      • pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 11:39 AM

        A double minor doesn’t really help if there’s less than 4 minutes remaining in the game. Fail.

  3. scottybcboy - Mar 17, 2012 at 12:55 AM

    That’s right, it is a conspiracy to prevent Canadian teams from winning the Cup……..what’s that….ohhhh, it’s a conspiracy to let Canadian teams make the playoffs………..yaawwwnn.
    There is no conspiracy! The Bruins won because they got lucky/were the healthiest team left.
    Jets won because the refs are human, people make mistakes….get over the conspiracies.

    • bmoreredfury311 - Mar 17, 2012 at 1:23 AM

      Please, Shanahan if you are going to be the so called “Sheriff” of the NHL. Stuart better go at least get suspended one or two games for that hit on Marcus,a total cheap shot.(god only one could imagine if that was Cindy that got hit like that) it be five games.. Oh and scottybcboy, the refs are humans and ill give you that. But they have the free will to either, to let’em play or make the same fair/just calls for each team, both ways, which the didn’t.You cant tell me with a straight face that wasn’t the case or just plain favoritism… i look forward to your thumbs down, cause the truth hurts.

      • scottybcboy - Mar 17, 2012 at 1:40 AM

        I’m not a Jets fan or biased towards this game in any way. Really? You think the refs have favorites? You think they went in to the game trying to find a way to let the Jets win? That is just laughable, they are human, there is no league directive telling them who to call penalties on. Believe what you want, it is easier to accept a conspiracy theory than knowing your team was just on the wrong end of some bad calls… game the bad calls will go your teams way.

    • Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 17, 2012 at 10:03 AM

      Would happen to know who killed Kennedy?

      • pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM

        What about the theory of a flying saucer crashing at Roswell in 1947? NASA faking the moon landings? The Illuminati and the New World Order? Diana, Princess of Wales, was murdered? Elvis Presley faked his own death? Operation Northwoods? MK-ULTRA? I can go on and on and on…. just like the Energizer Bunny.

      • Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM

        I saw Elvis last week in Burger King and I have a moon rock on my book case

      • blomfeld - Mar 17, 2012 at 10:13 PM

        Buffalo & Pfpmb … seriously

        you guys are truly unbelievable, yet you both reflect today’s so-called “connected” generation very well … on the one hand you talk about hockey likes it’s some kind of an advanced science, then on the other hand you show your complete and utter ignorance to some of the most interesting and important events that have shaped our world in recent times ? … so allow me to indulge you a little, eh ? …

        – Elvis Presely essentially killed himself due to heartbreak and emptiness, though technically he died of massive heart failure at approx 0600 hrs on Aug 16, 1977 … he never did recover completely from the loss of his mum in 1958, though his marriage to Priscilla in ’67 gave him a new lease …. once it became clear that she would never be returning to him in ’74, it was a steady downward spiral from there until the end … absolutely tragic …

        – Kennedy was taken out by three “government arranged” ex-military shooter teams at Dealey Plaza (ie: the perfect triangulation of fire) … watch the Zapruder footage and notice the guy curbside, who folds his umbrella as a signal for the final “kill” shot, which comes only two seconds later …

        – The sightings at Roswell were nothing more than “advanced weapons systems” testing by the US military … no different than German farmers wondering what the V-1 and V-2 rockets in the sky were around Peenemunde back in 1942 ? … there were no aliens then and there aren’t now …

        – Diana was “eliminated” by British-controlled agents, pure and simple … the mother of the future King of England doesn’t go around getting humped by some two-bit Muslim playboy … it’s as simple as that … the same thing would have happened if a Saudi princess was getting boinked by Charlie Sheen … don’t kid yourself …

        – MLK was eliminated by the government for the obvious reasons, as was Robert Kennedy, Malcolm X, Marilyn Monroe, etc …

        – The moon landings were probably the biggest hoax of the last century … there’s a “reason” why film maker Stanley Kubrick was involved … to date, man has never gone beyond the Earth’s orbit … this centuries biggest hoax so far is 9-11, which is a classic example of a “false flag” operation done “par excellence”

        – New World Order ? … that one I’ve honestly never understood, as what do people seriously think ? … powerful and controlling groups like the Bilderberg Group or Goldman Sachs just sit around and “hope” that things go their way ? … come on, you guys aren’t that stupid …

        I won’t get long winded here, but if you guys need to know the “truth” about anything else, then just drop me a line and I’ll be only too happy to oblige :)

      • pfpmb - Mar 18, 2012 at 3:51 AM

        blomfeld, this is earth shattering. All the years of being force fed by mainstream media, the “education” system, and all other brain washing activities / interest groups out there has now been exposed on a NHL hockey message board. Time to liquidate all my assets from the stock market and put everything in Foldgers tins, buried in the back yard. This NHL conspiracy ravenscaps48 speaks about will be the end of the beginning of the rapture. Gary Bettman might actually be Satan. Actually, Bettman’s pretty nice. Met him in the NHL store on 6th Avenue on Halloween 2011. True story. He was buying a kids Sidney Crosby jersey. That’s another one for you conspiracy theorists to run with.

        blomfeld, please explain that one to me.

      • Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 18, 2012 at 8:50 AM

        The comment was tongue in cheek dude. I was alive when Kennedy was shot, were you? Your comments are straight out of books. Spare me the rhetoric Einstein.

      • Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 18, 2012 at 8:51 AM

        Sports is entertainment, just like movies, wrestling, etc. End of story.

  4. luciddreams19 - Mar 17, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    Stop whining about the refs. Yes there were some bad calls, but that happens, and good teams get over it.
    The Caps are super skilled, but the problem is that the Caps seem like the least motivated team in the league. I blame the fans.

  5. blomfeld - Mar 17, 2012 at 1:49 AM


    Notwithstanding the fact that Cynthia is now back in the fold, sporting fresh new lingerie for “him” … the Eastern Conference is otherwise the equivalent of a “used car” lot. The true contenders for the Cup this year are to be had in the West … make no mistake about it ! Take your pick, be it the Canucks, Wings, Blues, Hawks or our “beloved” Kings. It doesn’t matter as the bottom line is that Lord Stanley’s mug is heading west this year and there’s nothing that you east coast “has-beens” can do about it ! :)

    • scottybcboy - Mar 17, 2012 at 1:52 AM

      Just like last year, right?

      • blomfeld - Mar 17, 2012 at 2:01 AM

        The Bruins were a Cinderella story last June … and it was wonderful

      • Buffalo Grumblings - Mar 17, 2012 at 10:05 AM

        That was last year

  6. pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:32 AM

    Wow, you Caps fans are a little sensitive and whinny like you underachieving, hapless stuperstars. The Caps have been overrated for years. Everybody knows Ovi’s game now and doesn’t allow hi spacee. Now, he’s maybe a 30 goal scorer at best. The “CROSBY’S BETTER” chant was a little uncalled for tonight. I admit, standing there, in the MTS Centre, with the loudest, most rabid fans in the NHL, I wondered, why are we chanting this? Ovi’s not even the best Russian in the NHL (Malkin and Datsyuk are hands down, way better). The refs missed a few calls both ways. This is what they do when it’s a playoff type game. The Caps have no heart and no toughness. I’ll just leave it at that.

    • gianthatr - Mar 17, 2012 at 2:46 PM

      Last 5 years goals scored?

      Malkin 164 418
      Datsyuk 129 382
      Ovechkin 232 469

      Maybe we should go by points the last 5 years right?

      Malkin 418
      Datsyuk 382
      Ovechkin 469

      Hands down? the best? going off the hard on you get watching Malkin/Datsyuk or real facts? dummy?

      Stopping letting feces flow out of that thing you call a mouth….To quote the idiot “PFPMB”

      please use some facts when you leave this ignorant drivel of yours on a message board.

      • pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:27 PM

        Great comment. Much applause. A little short sighted though.

        Malkin and Datsyuk have both hoisted Lord Stanley. Over the lifetime of Malkin’s career and Ovi’s, Malkin will have more Stanley Cups and points. Datsyuk will have more Stanley Cups, probably not as many points. Isn’t playing for Lord Stanley the reason why these guys get paid?

        What has Ovi done the last couple of years besides balloon up to 242 lbs., get a coach fired and steal $19 plus million from the Caps owner? He’ll barely break 30 goals again this year. I think I know what he’s done. He probably conquered the buffet line at the nearest Golden Corral.

        BTW – Ovi’s the second most overrated NHL’er. Dion Phanuef is #1.

      • pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:31 PM

        Ovi’s not even the best player on his team. That honor goes to John Carlson and possibly Nic Backstrom if he comes back healthy. Shame on Ovi, shame.

        Before I forget again, GO JETS GO!!!

  7. pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    Oh and I forgot, GO JETS GO!!!

  8. rabidbillsfan - Mar 17, 2012 at 10:48 AM

    I would prefer that the percentages used to describe a teams chances be dismissed as they are misleading. The only reason Washington and Winninpeg have such a high chance is becuase they have a shot at both the 8th seed and the Division crown. How can Winnipeg have a better chance then Buffalo when they have a 1 (ONE) more point and play the majority of their remaining games on the road! Makes no sense. Yes Winn, and Wash. would hold the tie-breaker, but for the Jets to be at 1:3 odds and the Sabres at 1:10 is just a bit odd, and, maybe being biased, untrue.

  9. kotteintheslot - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:25 PM

    I will start this by saying I am a Caps fan. I really am trying to look at this game objectively and I would have to say the refs called this game pretty fair. For almost the whole game, the refs let everything go on both sides. The Jets and the Caps were getting away hooks and holds pretty much the entire game. However, the ref who called the hook on Chimera very early in the 3rd clearly did not raise his arm until the Winnipeg crowd went nuts at the the fact that nothing was going to be called. This was a play that both teams were getting away with all game and it was right after the Caps scored 30 secs in to the 3rd to tie it pretty much killing all of there momentum. I think human nature can always kick in even with the best refs and I think that is what happened here. The Jets very well could have won this game regardless but any momentum the Caps could have gotten after their early goal went away with that call. Other than that I did not have a problem with any of the calls.

    • pfpmb - Mar 17, 2012 at 3:43 PM

      Clearly, a Caps fan that gets it. Last night’s game was one of the best games I’ve seen this year in person at the MTS Centre. Vokoun was the only reason this game ended 3 – 2 for the Jets. He was outstanding. Can’t wait til next Friday for the re-match. I only have another year to watch this rivalry seeing 2013 – 2014 the Jets will be in another division or conference.

      GO JETS GO!!!

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