Okay so I took a month off, shoot me. I've got shit to do, and its not like you pricks are reading anyway. And even though this isn't the best time to write about who's making the post and who isn't, on the heels of the trade deadline, and that BLOCKBUSTER trade that's about to happen, I'm gonna do it anyway.
Buyers and Sellers at the deadline, what the fuck does that mean anyway? Trades involve an exchanging of assets don't they, whether they're non-personified draft picks, bottom feeders in the farm system, or marquis talent. If it was all based on who's making the postseason wouldn't it be pretty cut and dry anyway? No, no, no, not so fast, there's still another 18 to 20 games after March 4th enough time for all those bubble teams to make their galant rush, or last hurrah. So here we are, its Hockey Rumors Christmas Eve... Who's going to make it just past the quarter pole?
Lets get the surefires out of the way, start in the West.
San Jose, Detroit, Calgary, Chicago.
Remember how the hockey world was talking about what a success story it would be if Chicago made the postseason this year? Well they're seven points ahead of their next closest Conference competitor, Vancouver, and eleven ahead of Columbus in their Division. I see the Hawks as this year's Pittsburgh Penguins. Two years ago. They're going to have to suffer a hard postseason series loss to be hungry enough to win anything the next year.
Calgary could be the dark horse of the West, y'I know, they're leading their division, but there's too much talk about the Wings, the Sharks, and the Hawks, that they sail under everyone's radar.
San Jose. If not now, when?
Detroit. Let's move on.
Okay so who's definetely out in the West?
Colorado in freefall, Phoenix in bankruptcy, Los Angeles in infancy. St. Louiiiiiiiis? People are still making noise, so much in fact that they might take Chris 'El Bow Jefe' Pronger back to make a run at the eighth spot? Sounds outlandish to me, probably won't happen, both the trade, and the Blues making the post. Then again stranger things have happened, there is a professional hockey team in Missouri. With a chance for two.
So what does that leave us with, seven bubble teams, eight if we include the Notes. So we'll go from the top, down. Vancouver's probably a lock, can you imagine the hell that would freeze over if the 'Nucks missed the playoffs with his lord and savior Mats Sundin in the fold? Ottawa Senator meltdown proportions. Without the lisp. At this point Vancouver's got four points on Columbus. The BlowJobs are about to make their first postseason in team history, thank Chri... I mean Sundin. Those people in Ohio need something to believe in, other than suicide. I expect them to make a play for some offensive talent to be deeper down the middle, maybe Olli Jokinen going from one dire situation to the next, or Nik Antropov, two underachieving centers available at the bait shop, but probably not going to be sought after by the upper echelon teams. So right now, the final two spots are eaten up by up and down Edmonton, and disappointing Anaheim tied at 67 points. By the numbers, you've got seven teams duking it out for the last three spots with...
6. Columbus, 68 points, 19 games remaining, (Det x2, Chi x4, Nsh x2, Cal, Bos)
7. Edmonton, 67 points, 20 games remaining, (Ana x2, Cal x2, SJ, Van, Mon, Det)
8. Anaheim, 67 points, 18 games remaining, (SJ x3, Dal x2, Edm x2, Van x2, Nsh x2, Min)
9. Nashville, 66 points, 19 games remaining, (CBJ x3, SJ x2, Det x2, Ana x2, Chi x2, Was, Phi)
10. Minnesota, 65 points, 21 games remaining (SJ x2. Van x2, Edm x2. Cal x2, Det, Nsh, NJ)
11. Dallas, 65 points, 20 games remaining (SJ x2, Ana x2, Min x2, Van x2, Cal x2, StL x2)
12. St. Louis, 64 points, 20 games remaining (Det x3, CBJ x3, Dal x2, Van x2, SJ, Min, Cal, Chi)
Noting their toughest competitors on the rest of the calendar, its a long, hard, uncircumsized ride to the postseason. And then its even harder. I think Columbus makes it in, they've got too much riding on it, and at this point I see Edmonton and Anaheim slipping out. The Oil just don't have enough in the tank, and Anaheim upper management already has Yard Sale signs posted all over the neighborhood even though they could and should make it. 'Brian's gone, what do we do?! Sell! Sell! Nashville has been on a tear, and they usually squeak in when no one else gives them a chance. Minnesota's schedule is ridiculous, they've got 12 road games in March, and another two in April, so I don't think we'll be subject to the boredom of Wild hockey any longer than necessary. Dallas has an outside shot of getting that last spot, they've got a few softies in the schedule, and if they miss it, they can always blame Sean Avery. As for St. Louis, I think there's just too much ground to make up, and not enough road to catch the rest of the pack.
So in the end, in the West, in no particular order, we have...
1. San Jose
and I'm going to go with Anaheim in the eighth spot over Dallas. Now, watch Dallas take the eighth spot, and beat the Sharks in six games.
Okay, had enough? Too bad, here comes the East.
Sure bets in the East, Boston, New Jersey, Washington, Philadelphia, and I would put in Montreal in, but it just tickles my pickle to think of the Habs blowing it in the Centennial season. Ah fuck it, Montreal's going to make the post, but the second round? That's another story. So that leaves us with, again, three spots, but only five teams vying for it. The Isles get Tavares, Waddell loses his job, Tampa's a soap opera, Ottawa is Hiroshima, and Toronto is Nagasaki with Burke at the helm.
From the top down for the bubble teams, Florida's in the thick of it with 72 points, tied with the Rangers, now featuring Sean Avery. Now if the Rangers miss the post they can blame Sean Avery, or Renney. See how that works for everyone. Pittsburgh is clinging to the 8th spot with 70 points, but has at least climbed back into the picture. I guess Therrien really was the problem. Buffalo and Carolina are tied with 69 points, just out of it. Florida needs a postseason berth just as bad as Columbus, but will probably see a first round exit, hopefully they'll go down fighting, and not look like the Thrashers against the Rangers two seasons back, getting bounced out in four. I'd love to see the Rangers out of it, but I'm imagining the standings at just about the same order come April. Buffalo will miss, chalk it up to Miller's injury, and attempt to rebuild. Carolina will throw their arms up, Brind'Amour will retire with his minus -13,486, and Schoenfeld will make one trade claiming to have fixed the leak. But lets have a look at the games remaining, and we'll throw Philly and Montreal in just for Schnitzengiggle.
4. Philadelphia, 76 points, 21 games remaining, (NYR x4, Bos x2, Fla x2, Buf x2, Cal, NJD, Was)
5. Montreal, 75 points, 19 games remaining, (Buf x2, NYR x2, Bos, NJD, Chi, Dal, Edm, Pit)
6. Florida, 72 points, 19 games remaining, (Pit x3, Phi x2, Was x2, Buf x2, CBJ, Dal, Car, StL)
7. NY Rangers, 72 points, 18 games remaining, (Phi x4, Mon x2, Car x2, Bos x2, NJD, Pit, NSH)
8. Pittsburgh, 70 points, 18 games remaining, (Fla x2, Wsh, Bos, CBJ, NYR, Mon, Phi, Cal, NJD)
9. Buffalo, 69 points, 19 games remaining, (Mon x 2, Phi x2, Fla x2, Det, Mon, NYR, NJD, Wsh)
10. Carolina, 64 points, 18 game remaining, (Wsh x3, NJD x3, NYR x2, Cal, Chi, Pit, Fla, Dal)
Philly has a tough trail to blaze to April, but they've been gritty and unless their goaltending comes apart at the seams, they should fall somewhere in the top 8. Montreal plays out of the conference only three times in the remaining games, but the majority are against Atlantic and Northeast division teams. Florida has a shot at winning every game remaining, they won't be easy, but there's no Boston's, no NJ's, no SJ's, and no Detroit. I say they finish right in the middle of the conference, they need it this year. The Rangers haven't made it easy on themselves, with only 3 or 4 games against league pushovers, the rest will be battles. Sean Avery is to the Rangers, as Sundin is to the Canucks. Pittsburgh has a scheduling stroke of genius at the end of their season, with mostly Southeast Division matchups, and only playing two teams more than once in the remaining games. Its amazing how the East can have league scoring leaders on teams that are barely squeaking into the post, (Ovechkin last year, Malkin this year.) Buffalo, like St. Louis, there's just not enough W's left in the remaining games, same goes for Carolina, they might get four wins out of the last 18 and there's no way that's cutting it.
So what do we got? Again, in no particular order, its too early for that shit.
2. New Jersey
7. New York Rangers, and...
8. Pittsburgh, even though I'd love to see the mass hysteria coming out of Western Pennsyltucky if the Pens missed the dance. Fans would be taking swan dives, or counting the days until the Steelers preseason starts, one of the two.
So there it is, I'll renegotiate the order of my picks once we get closer, and we'll all be winners. Sorry for the delay in posts, I've got a few more churning out shortly, just a little constipated.
Merry Hockey Rumors Christmas!