Friday, April 2, 2010

Who "Really Wants It" in the Easten Conference, Anyway?

Last night three of the five Eastern Conference "bubble teams" (Philadelphia, Montreal, Boston, Atlanta and the Rangers) were in action - all three (Philadelphia, Boston, and Atlanta) lost. On Wednesday evening the Canadiens lost to Carolina. On Tuesday evening all three Eastern Conference"bubble teams" in action (the Rangers, Boston and Atlanta) won, but over the last two weeks that's (bubble teams winning) been the exception not the rule.

Of the five teams in the East fighting for the final three playoff spots, only three - the Atlanta Thrashers and the Montreal Canadiens have played better than 0.500 hockey over their last 10 games; those teams aren't "lighting the world on fire". Here's what things look like:

#6 Philadelphia, 82 points; Last 10 games: 2-6-2;
#7 Montreal, 82 points; Last 10 games: 5-3-2;
#8 Boston, 82 points; Last 10 games: 5-5-0;
#9 Atlanta, 80 points; Last 10 games: 6-3-1;
#10 New York Rangers, 78 points, 1 or 2 games in hand; Last 10 games: 5-4-1.

So doesn't that drive you to a couple of things like: a) Who of these teams really wants to make the playoffs? b) Does it matter - I mean are any of them in their current state even close enough to win a seven game series that it's possible any of them could see the second round? and c) Given the way the five of them are playing should we start to watch the 11th place Hurricanes and 12th place Islanders and track them as "bubble teams" too? It at least sort of does me to ask/do so.

One thing seems certain the way those teams are playing, we won't really know who the Caps will face in the first round of the playoffs for a while.

In the Western Conference the big question this morning is - Is tonight's game between the Avalanche and the Flames in Colorado really a must win for both teams? If it's not it's almost as close as a regular season game can get to a game 7 can get. It should be a good one to watch.

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