Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Morning Hockey Musings - 4/1/2012

Wow sports fans, just wow. First let's focus on the couple of really big things that happened in the NHL world this week:

1) The New York Hockey Rangers notched their 50th win of the season. Yes, I'm a Caps fan but you can't or shouldn't in my opinion fail to mention/point out a 50 win season by any team at the NHL level. So far this season only the Rangers have hit that mark and only five (5) other teams have the mathematical possibility of doing so, further I'd say only three (3) of those five (5) have a reasonable chance of hitting 50 wins this season: Vancouver, Saint Louis, and Pittsburgh. So it's a notable achievement and it should be mentioned. Further it and the fact the Caps have 40 wins of which 36 are "ROWs" but are in second place in their division to the Florida Panthers who have 37 wins (31 ROW) is why until my dying breath I will advocate that EVERY NHL regular season game should be worth 3 points, not just the games that end tied after sixty minutes; but that's a different blog post that will be shortly forthcoming.

2) The Washington Capitals did what they had to this past week and they need to keep doing it - that's win games and get standings points. The Caps are alone in eighth place this morning and the only team that can "knock them out" of the playoffs are the Buffalo Sabres who they lead by two points (1 game) and who they hold the tiebreaker over as well. Both the Sabres and the Caps have 3 games left in the regular season. The Sabres play the Maple Leafs for their home ice finale on Tuesday evening in Buffalo and then finish their season with road games at Philadelphia on Thursday and Boston on Saturday. Despite losing to Toronto in Toronto last evening after loosing a tough one to Pittsburgh on Friday evening, I can't forget that they started the week by beating the Capitals 5-1 at Verizon Center and are still 6-2-2 in their last ten games, so I don't expect the Sabres to make it easy for the Capitals. On the week the Caps were 3-1 with victories (though inclusive of a couple of nail biters) over Minnesota last Sunday and Boston and Montreal on Thursday and yesterday respectively. Let's just not talk about their loss to the Sabres on Tuesday, seriously let's not - it hurts too much since if the Capitals had won that game they'd have 90 points to Buffalo's 84 and in need of just one more win to "clinch" a playoff spot. They'd also be tied in points with Florida and be a/2 game closer to winning the Southeast Division. In any case as of this morning the Capitals are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and are two points/one game closer to clinching a playoff spot then they were last week at this time.

3) Who's the toughest/best team in the NHL today? Does that really matter since they are all just 3 or 4 games away from the "second" season? What matters to me is the remaining battles/races for the playoffs. In the East you have four teams battling for three playoff spots: Florida, Washington, Ottawa and Buffalo. Four points (2 games) separate the top of that heap (Florida and Ottawa) at 90 points from the bottom (Buffalo) at 86. In the West you have six teams battling for three playoff spots: Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Jose, Dallas Colorado, and Calgary. Calgary is basically 1/2 game away from mathematical elimination; while Colorado is a full game away from mathematical elimination. However, as the cliche' goes, it ain't over till the fat lady sings and so it "ain't over" yet for either of those two teams though it could be on Tuesday if either San Jose of Phoenix wins. In the East it could be over for Buffalo as early as Tuesday as well if the Capitals win in Tampa on Monday and the Sabres fail to get at least a point on Tuesday when they play Toronto at home.

So, we still live in interesting times eh?


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