Saturday, April 5, 2008

Go Caps Go... and desired playoff matchups

The title is a bit misleading as the Capitals don't need any help... they beat the Panthers today and took the 3 seed in the East with Carolina being good enough to lose to Florida Thursday and open the door for Ovechkin and company.

Actually, with that lose, Carolina in effect went from the 3 seed to the 9 (pending of course the eventual Caps win today) and clinched playoff spots for Boston, Ottawa and Philadelphia.

The West has been a bit simpler in that Vancouver's lose on Thursday gave the 8 spot to Nashville... meaning that since Thursday, the West has simply been about 1-8 seedings and now the East has joined in this status.

So, the heavy lifting of getting there is done, but still quite a few things to get figured out on the final day. The various potential matchups are many so rather than listing out everything that could happen, let's look at what we'd like to see and what it would take on the final day to make that happen.

Western Conference desired matchups:
(1) Detroit vs (8) Nashville... set in stone.
(4) Anaheim vs (5) Dallas... set in stone.
(2) San Jose vs (7) Colorado... very much up in the air. Assuming Calgary wins vs Vancouver (safe bet as they're up 4-1 right now), this matchup would occur if Colorado loses in regulation to Minnesota on Sunday (not sure what an OTL would result in).
(3) Minnesota vs (6) Calgary... see above. Calgary and Colorado seedings will depend on Colorado's last game Sunday vs the Wild.

Eastern Conference desired matchups:
(4) New Jersey vs (5) NY Rangers... set in stone, just will have home ice determined by their game Sunday.
(2) Montreal vs (7) Boston... set in stone. Will be either with Montreal 1 or 2 and Boston 7 or 8 in the conference pending the Pittsburgh-Philly game Sunday.
(1) Pittsburgh vs (8) Philadelphia... would come about if Pittsburgh can beat the Flyers on Sunday. If they lose to Philly, Pittsburgh would play Ottawa in round one.
(3) Washington vs (6) Ottawa... see above. Could have Ottawa and the Flyers flipping opponents for their respective first round matchups.

Either way... the playoffs are oh so close to being here and everything starts over at the beginning. Don't be shocked at any lower seeds advancing... wasn't too long ago that the 1-4 seeds in the West all lost to the 5-8 teams. Hopefully that doesn't happen this year, but all bets are off in the wild and wooly NHL playoffs.

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