So after watching the Tampa Bay Lightning down the Boston Bruins, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Rangers in overtime, on the the free preview of NHL Center Ice on Comcast last night, I had some strange random thoughts. And... What once seemed a totally ridiculous thought, anyone else winning the NHL's Eastern Conference beside the Boston Bruins, while still a highly unlikely thought is no longer an absurd, ridiculous one. Of course this should not be the objective and focus of the Washington Capitals during the 22 games remaining on the NHL's 2008-2009 regular season schedule, playing the best hockey they can and finishing the season as strange as possible should be the focus. Looking at the current standings the Caps first job should be making sure they finish ahead of both New Jersey and Philadelphia. Of course that said I just did a little mathematical extrapolation base don everybody's play over the past ten games through the remainder of the season and here's what things would look like. Now mind you when you look at the remaining schedules of the Bruins, Caps and Devils the schedules are pretty similar with regard to strength of schedule etc. The Flyers have a little tougher road then the other three guys but not too much harder and while I was at it, I decided to look at the other 6 teams in the East who could realistically make the playoffs based on recent efforts and also based on average points per game thus far in the season.
Here's where the teams are now and how many games they have remaining:
1) Boston, 88 Points, 60 Games Played, 22 Games Remaining, Last 10: 4-4-2 (0.500),
2) Washington, 81 Points, 60 Games Played, 22 Games Remaining, Last 10: 7-2-1 (0.750),
3) New Jersey, 79 Points, 60 Games Played, 22 Games Remaining, Last 10: 6-4-0 (0.600),
4) Philly, 69 Points, 57 Games Played, 25 Games Remaining, Last 10: 6-4-0 (0.600),
5) Montreal, 69 Points, 60 games Played, 22 Games Remaining, Last 10: 3-6-1 (0.350),
6) Florida, 68 Points, 59 Games Played, 23 Games Remaining, Last 10: 7-3-0 (0.700),
7) Buffalo, 68 Points, 60 games Played, 22 Games Remaining, Last 10: 5-4-1 (0.550),
8) NY Rangers, 68 Points, 60 Games Played, 22 Games Remaining, Last 10: 2-6-2 (0.300),
9) Carolina, 67 Points, 61 Games Played, 21 Games Remaining, Last 10: 6-4-0 (0.600),
10) Pittsburgh, 64 Points, 61 Games Played, 21 Games Remaining, Last 10: 5-4-1 (0.550).
If you extrapolate their performance from the last 10 games they end up with the following points and standings placings:
1) Washington: 114 Points,
2) Boston: 110 Points,
3) New Jersey: 105 Points,
4) Florida: 100 Points,
5) Philly: 99 Points,
6) Buffalo: 92 Points,
7) Carolina: 92 Points,
8) Pittsburgh: 87 Points,
9) Montreal: 85 Points,
10) Ottawa: 82 Points,
11) NY Rangers: 81 Points,
12) Toronto: 77 Points,
13) Tampa Bay: 70 Points,
14) Atlanta: 68 Points,
15) NY Islanders: 58 Points.
If they play like they have on average all season the only change in the current standings is that Florida finishes 5th and Montreal finishes 6th and the final standings for the 8 teams in the playoffs would be:
3) New Jersey,
8) NY Rangers.
The next 22 games will be intense and it's anybody's guess which three of the following five teams that will finish at 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10 in the Eastern Conference: Buffalo, the Rangers, Carolina, Pittsburgh, & Montreal will make the playoffs though there will be a "whole lot a shakin' going on" between now and the last face off in April. Likewise, it's unclear where the top five teams will finish and will be seeded for rounds 1 and 2 of the playoffs but the games will be intense and fun to watch. The amazing thing is that even now with just 22 games left for the Capitals, every game will count and it's entirely possible that after an entire season has gone by, the road to the Stanley Cup for the Capitals could very well, once again, go through Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. But it's no big deal right? It's not like we're talking about any intense division rivalries here, right?
LETS GO CAPS!!!!!