Wild Wild… East?

With just a few weeks remaining in the NHL regular season, playoff spots and seeds are beginning to take shape. In the Eastern Conference, it appears to be a five horse race for four playoff spots; the 3rd seed in the Metropolitan Division, the 3rd seed in the Atlantic Division, and the two wildcard positions. Washington has already clinched the conference, along with the New York Rangers, Florida and Tampa Bay, whom all appear to have sewn up playoff spots.

So Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York (Islanders) and Boston are all jockeying to move on to the second season. Here’s a breakdown of each teams remaining schedule and current position (as of March 26):

Detroit Red Wings – 37-26-11- 85 Pts (out of playoff spot)

Remaining games: 8

vs Pittsburgh (0-2 head to head)

vs Buffalo (3-1 head to head)

@Montreal (2-1 head to head)

vs Minnesota (0-1 head to head)

@Toronto (2-1 head to head)

vs Philadelphia (0-1-1 head to head)

@Boston (1-1-1 head to head)

@New York Rangers (1-0-1 head to head)

Combined record versus remaining opponents: 9-8-3

Opponents combined season winning %: 46.5%

 

Pittsburgh Penguins – 40-25-8- 88 Pts (3rd in Metropolitan)

Remaining games: 9

@ Detroit (2-0 head to head)

@ New York Rangers (2-1 head to head)

vs Buffalo (2-0 head to head)

vs Nashville (1-0 head to head)

@ New York Islanders (2-1 head to head)

vs Philadelphia (2-0 head to head)

@ Ottawa (2-0 head to head)

@ Washington (2-2 head to head)

@ Philadelphia (2-0 head to head)

Combined record versus remaining opponents: 17-4

Opponents combined season winning %: 52.3%

 

New York Islanders – 39-25-9- 87 Pts (wildcard #1)

Remaining games: 9

@ Carolina (0-1-1 head to head)

vs Carolina (0-1-1 head to head)

vs Columbus (4-0 head to head)

vs Pittsburgh (1-1-1 head to head)

vs Tampa Bay (1-1 head to head)

@ Washington (0-2-1 head to head)

@ New York Rangers (3-0 head to head)

vs Buffalo (1-1 head to head)

vs Philadelphia (2-2 head to head)

Combined record versus remaining opponents: 12-9-4

Opponents combined season winning %: 51.9%

 

Boston Bruins – 39-28-8 – 86 Pts (3rd in Atlantic)

Remaining games: 7

@ Toronto (3-0-1 head to head)

@ New Jersey (2-0 head to head)

@ St. Louis (0-1 head to head)

@ Chicago (1-0 head to head)

vs Carolina (1-0-1 head to head)

vs Detroit (2-1 head to head)

vs Ottawa (1-1-1 head to head)

Combined record versus remaining opponents: 10-3-3

Opponents combined season winning %: 56.5%

 

Philadelphia Flyers – 36-24-13 – 85 Pts (2nd wildcard)

Remaining games: 9

@ Arizona (1-0 head to head)

vs Winnipeg (1-0  head to head)

vs Washington (1-2 head to head)

vs Ottawa (1-1 head to head)

@ Pittsburgh (0-2 head to head)

@ Detroit (2-0  head to head)

vs Toronto (1-1 head to head)

vs Pittsburgh (0-2 head to head)

@ New York Islanders (2-2 head to head)

Combined record versus remaining opponents: 9-10

Opponents combined season winning %: 49.8%

 

Who’s In

Pittsburgh Penguins: 17-4 record versus remaining teams bodes well. Crosby & Co have too much fire power to miss out on the playoffs, especially with a 3 point cushion as of now.

New York Islanders: 4 of New York’s 9 remaining games come against the Eastern Conference’s bottom feeders (Carolina twice, Buffalo and Columbus). Add in a game against their arch-rival Rangers (whom they’re 3-0 against) and the Isles should be playing playoff hockey in their new home of Brooklyn.

Detroit Red Wings:  The Wings’ remaining schedule (percentage wise) is the weakest among the competing teams. They have 3 meetings with some of the East’s worst (Toronto, Buffalo and Montreal) and as we all know, have made the playoffs 24 straight seasons. Make it 25.

Philadelphia Flyers: Philadelphia is currently one of the hottest teams in the league, winning 10 of their last 14. Peaking at the right time, they have a favorable remaining schedule, and have been getting stellar goaltending from Steve Mason.

 

Who’s Out

Boston Bruins: Heading in the wrong direction, Boston has lost 5 in a row and 6 of 7 overall. The Bruins are also having trouble scoring (6 goals scored in last 5 games). With only 7 games remaining, Boston has 4 straight on the road (two of which at Western Conference powerhouses Chicago and St Louis) and could spell the end of their playoff hopes.

 

No matter what happens in the these last weeks, we should all be in store for some entertaining hockey.

 

Carter is hockey player, formerly in WHL for the Vancouver Giants. You can follow him on Twitter @carter_popoff.

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