Sunday, March 29, 2009

Final Two Weeks - Storylines to Watch

Two weeks left in the regular season and there's some really interesting things to watch for...

1. Teams "sending a message" to potential playoff opponents. As evidenced by the recent pugilism in the March 29 Vancouver-Calgary game and March 26 Calgary-Columbus matchup.

2. The race for the #1 seed in the West. Detroit is certainly trying help San Jose with them having two straight losses, but the Sharks are still going through a world of injury hurt (which won't be getting any better should Captain Patrick Marleau miss any time).

3. Battle for the final playoff spots in the East. Looks to be three teams for two spots remaining...

- 7th spot: New York Rangers - 87 points. 6 games left.
- 8th spot: Montreal Canadiens - 86 points. 7 games left.
- 9th spot: Florida Panthers - 85 points. 6 games left.

Prognosticating this race, I gotta think that the Rangers and Canadiens hold their playoff spots (Montreal's game in hand should help a lot). Anything's possible, though... and in that category, Buffalo is only 3 points back of Florida).

4. Battle for the final playoff spots in the West. Assuming that Columbus is safely in, that leaves five teams for two spots...

- 7th spot: Nashville Predators - 84 points. 6 games left.
- 8th spot: St Louis Blues- 83 points. 6 games left.
- 9th spot: Anaheim Ducks - 82 points. 6 games left.
- 10th spot: Edmonton Oilers - 81 points. 6 games left.
- 11th spot: Minnesota Wild - 80 points. 6 games left.

Lots of interesting things going on here. Out of this quagmire, I'd love to see St Louis make it as they've fought hard to reach a level this season people wouldn't have expected and would love to see Anaheim not make it. Just don't like them... and they're a scary opponent.

With where things stand right now, the playoff matchups would look like this. Under the "teams in the hunt" category, note the Anaheim at Edmonton game this Tuesday night... a pretty big one.

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