Two games left with seven seeds undecided
I've been paying attention to Soloact's fantastic Magic Numbers Chart every day for weeks now, but we have finally come to the end of the regular season. Less than one week until the start of heart attack hockey.
The final weekend of the season is turning up to have a lot more intrigue than usual, and I'l be watching probably every single game in the west the next four days. The schedule makers decided to throw in a lot of home-and-home games for teams at the end of the season, but I don't think they intended this. Of the current top 8 seeds, SIX of them are involved in home-and-home two game sets. First, the top 9 and their remaining opponents:
- Vancouver: Doesn't matter
- San Jose: Phoenix x2
- Detroit: Chicago x2
- Los Angeles: Anaheim x2
- Nashville: Columbus, St Louis
- Phoenix: San Jose x2
- Anaheim: Los Angeles x2
- Chicago: Detroit x2
- Dallas: Colorado x2, Minnesota
The NHL schedulers couldn't have imagined this when the schedule was put together. We have sets of games with Detroit-Chicago, Anaheim-LA, and Phoenix-SJ... all on the same weekend... with 5 points separating the bottom 6 seeds. Here's the current standings, with current non-shootout wins (tiebreaker), thanks to Soloact's diligent work.
- Vancouver: Don't care
- San Jose: 103 Pt 42 W
- Detroit: 102 Pt 42 W
- LA 98 Pt 36 W
- Nashville 97 Pt 37 W
- Phoenix 97 Pt 37 W
- Anaheim 95 Pt 41 W
- Chicago 95 Pt 37 W
- Dallas 91 Pt 35 W
- Let's start from the bottom. Let me thank the Calgary Flames for their participation in the 2010-2011 NHL season; good luck at the lottery.
- Dallas: Only team with three games remaining, and arguably the weakest schedule. One regulation loss or a combination of two OT/SO losses will end their season if Chicago and Anaheim don't pick up any more points.
- Chicago: Goes into a home and home with Detroit this weekend, with both teams treading water. Could leapfrog NAS, PHO, & ANA if they get DET twice without going to shootout, but would need a ton of help.
- Anaheim: Holds the win tiebreaker over everyone outside of the division winners, regardless of the other teams winning. Plays a Kopitar-less LA squad twice.
- Phoenix & Nashville: Effectively tied in all respects, but Nashville has an easier end to the season.
- Los Angeles: Three more wins than Nashville but one less non-shootout win...they've sure benefited from all those skills competitions, huh? They'd be sitting in 7th or 8th place right now otherwise. Two game set with Anaheim, and behind in the tiebreaker.
- San Jose & Detroit: Effectively tied, but the Sharks sit one point up in 2nd. A shootout loss or win (to change the equal number of wins) may be key in the final days.
Looks like a great end of the season to me. So, here's my gut predictions for the games:
- Dallas loses one game in regulation. Steve Ott cries on the bench.
- Chicago and Detroit split, with one three point game. The loser point goes to Chicago, as they seem to be getting some "help" recently.
- Anaheim takes both games against LA, one in OT/SO.
- Sharks take both against Phoenix, one in OT/SO.
- Nashville gets one win and a loser point.
That leaves the following standings:
- VAN: Can I just start a list with 2?
- SJ: 107/43
- DET: 104/74
- NAS: 100/38
- ANA: 99/42
- LA: 99/36
- CHI: 98/38
- PHO: 98/37
First round matchups: VAN-PHO, SJ-CHI, DET-LA, NAS-ANA. Seems like a underwhelming lineup to me. VAN-CHI, SJ-PHO, DET-ANA, and LA-NAS would be far more interesting (for DET and VAN, that is).
What say you?