Monday, April 5, 2010

Final Week Primer

Lottery Watch (still the most important thing for this franchise since no cup is coming this year):

1. Edmonton - 56 (4 games remaining)
2. Toronto - 72 (3)
3. Tampa - 74 (4)
4. Florida - 74 (4)
5. Carolina - 76 (3)
6. Islanders - 76 (4)
7. Columbus - 77 (3)

These are the only teams Toronto can still pass so worst-case scenario is now the 7th pick, but the Bruins are looking great to at least have a shot at the #1 pick (bottom 5). Thankfully, Tampa Bay and Florida play each other on Sunday so someone has to get points right? However, this does beg the question, does anybody truly win when Tampa Bay and Florida square off on the final day of the season? All that needs to happen for Carolina and the Islanders to clinch finishing ahead of Toronto is for each team to get at least 2 points this week because they would have the wins tiebreaker over Toronto.

Futility Watch (games remaining in parentheses):

1. Your Boston Bruins! - 193 (4)
2. Calgary - 199 (3)
3. Edmonton - 199 (4)
4. Florida - 199 (4)
5. Tampa - 201 (4)

The Bruins may have wrapped up the distinction of having the most anemic offense in the league this past week. We're going to have to see an offensive explosion this week to climb out of the cellar.

Jennings Watch - fewest goals against for a team:

1. New Jersey - 186 (4)
2. Boston - 191 (4)
3. Phoenix - 195 (3)

The Bruins still have a chance to repeat as Jennings Trophy winners, albeit a slim one.

Playoff watch:
6. Montreal - 86 (3 games - @NYI, @CAR, TOR)
7. Boston - 84 (4 games - @WAS, BUF, CAR, @WAS)
8. Philadelphia - 84 (3 games - @TOR, @NYR, NYR)
9. Rangers - 82 (4 games - @BUF, TOR, PHI, @PHI)
10. Atlanta - 81 (3 games - NJ, @WAS, PIT)
11. Islanders - 76 (4 games - who cares, just get two points out of all of them)

Yes, the Isles are still mathematically in it if they win out and Boston and the Rangers lose out - not happening, but thought I'd throw them in there for accuracy. Here's the deal - Atlanta is toast. They finish with NJ, @WAS, PIT. NJ and PIT are battling it out for seeding and the Atlantic Division title and will be playing for keeps. Atlanta would have to win all 3 to have a shot and I just don't see it against those teams. Montreal is in the playoffs, but it's not official yet. They finish with @NYI, @CAR, TOR. I just hope their seed is in doubt on Saturday when they square off with the Leafs in their final game of the season.

The schedule helps out our Bruins. Philly and the Rangers play TWICE this week in each team's final two games of the season. What this means is that one of these teams is guaranteed to lose points. The worst-case for the Bruins would be both games going to OT and the teams trading wins which would mean 3 points each. If that were to happen and each team won their other games, they would both finish with 89 points. Therefore, if the Bruins can manage 6 points this week, they would clinch a playoff spot. This blogger thinks 4 points will be enough giving them 88 which wipes out Atlanta since their max is 87 and would force the Rangers to win 3 of 4 minimum this week.

My prediction is as follows...The Bruins will make it as the #7 seed and Montreal will stay ahead of them for #6. The winner of the Flyers/Rangers mini-playoff series gets #8. Who will the Bruins play in the first round? There's a tight race for the 2, 3, and 4 seeds:

2. New Jersey - 97 (4 games - @ATL, @FLA, NYI, BUF)
3. Buffalo - 96 (4 games - NYR, @BOS, @OTT, @NJ)
4. Pittsburgh - 97 (4 games - WAS, NYI, @ATL, @NYI)

New Jersey owns the tiebreaker on PIT due to head-to-head record. This is a tough call. I'm going to give the edge to Pittsburgh since WAS will be playing on back-to-back nights and they have two against the Isles. Let's hope the Caps are looking forward to their matchup with Crosby and Co. tonight when they square off against our Bruins. If the Pens manage to win the division, they would be the #2 seed since Buffalo has a tough schedule to finish.

This, of course, would setup a playoff series against Matt Cooke and the Pittsburgh Penguins. That would at least have the possibility of being a lot of fun before the Penguins send the Bruins to the golf course for the offseason...if New Jersey ends up winning the Atlantic and getting the #2 seed, just burn my playoff tickets - can't wait to watch more thrillers like that 1-0 OT win a few games back! Although I would give the B's a better chance of winning a series against the Devils...

Whatever happens, there will be some great hockey to watch this week around the league...

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