East Rat Race

How things can take unexpected sharp turns.I watched that movie not too long ago, the Rat Race. Good classic comedy movie.

Anyway, a lot of people have been right about the EC standings in that they will go to the very end of the last couple of games or so. So, who is still in it, out of it, and what can happen?

7. New York Islanders

Losing Rick DiPietro is a huge loss for this team. We don’t know the seriousness of his apparent concussion, but missing him for just three games can be crucial to the team. Even for one game as two points are worth as much as gold nowadays. Still, the New York Islanders play such a solid game that they will exceed their level of capabilities and manage to get by with Mike Dunham, who has been a solid goaltender. The key games for the Islanders are against the Rangers. So far, they only managed to get one point in shootouts after DiPietro faced 57 shots. Yes, goaltending is THAT important for this team. This means that Ryan Smyth has to step up, Alexei Yashin has to have a monster performance in a few games, and the defense cannot afford to make any mistakes. I think the Isle’s will manage, they are a strong character team, full of experience, and having players like Smyth, Blake, and Sillinger makes the team tougher as they will stand up to play harder for the team since DiPietro is sidelined. I still think the Smyth trade was great, gutsy, and if Smyth starts putting up the needed points, and plays effective, without DiPietro’s presence, he will get this team into the playoffs and Garth Snow will deserve a lot of credit.

8. Carolina Hurricanes

Losing Cam Ward such a big deal? Not really. The guy gives more potential wins, but looking at his numbers compared to John Grahame’s, they are almost equal. What is the upside by playing Grahame in Ward’s absence? The guy has experience. He had the Bulin Wall in front of him in Tampa Bay, and he managed to carry the load many times. He can do that in Carolina. Still, I wouldn’t be counting on this team yet. Inconsistency best describes the Hurricanes this season; the shootout loss against the Rangers was a huge lost point as they should have put the game away with a lucky given powerplay in OT. What is Carolina’s advantage? The Canes have six divisional games left against the Capitals, Panthers, and Lightning; and they are good playing against their division rivals. Should this team be able to make it? Yes. It’s pretty much an easy road to finish the season. Do I expect them to finish 8th? Yes. Am I betting on it? No. I cannot trust this team, too many surprising losses.

9. Toronto Maple Leafs

Two big wins in a row prove this team’s character. Injury is no longer an issue now, with Tucker and Wellwood back, so where does this team stand being just two points away from 7th seed? They have a good chance if Carolina manages to screw things up along the way, or if the Islanders start falling. The schedule is quite tough, yet the Leafs know how to win big games and have proven that thus far. This builds confidence and I am expecting streaky goaltender Raycroft to go on a hot streak. If that happens, then it should almost be a sure shot that the Leafs make it. Yet, they have to hope that either the Hurricanes or the Islanders lose too many important games.

10. New York Rangers

I have to give some credit to this team. They’ve been playing very good hockey and the players are really stepping up to give it their best. Jaromir Jagr is not even close to being 100% as he can’t shoot the puck. Martin Straka said that if this was midway through the season, he wouldn’t be playing with his injury. The hot Marcel Hossa is sidelined. Key defenseman Fedor Tyutin is still a couple of weeks away. Paul Mara is playing through an upper body injury. Brednan Shanahan is still out without any timetable. Karel Rachunek was playing his best hockey of the year and he is sidelined now. Talk about untimely injuries, but you cannot blame the injuries and certainly cannot play the injury card, unlike other teams have. So, I have good news and bad news; which one should I give out first to Rangers fans? Ok, bad news first. This team will not make the playoffs. The offense comes up short despite the very good defense, which has been the best defense in the NHL since early January. Also, not enough bodies to play. By bodies I mean NHL players that have the experience to play big in key games and know how to take advantage of other teams. This is when a Bredan Shanahan comes in, blocks a heavy slapshot from the point during a penalty kill, and on the next shift he scores a big goal. The Rangers do not have that anymore. They had a great 2-0 lead against the Senators, they outplayed them for most of the game, yet the defense didn’t have the experience to play against top Senators talent in the third period when Rachunek was missing. So, on to the good news. I know this may sound odd as I just said the team didn’t have enough bodies, but I said experienced bodies (no, not experienced bodies in a way like Lindsey Lohan, Paris Hilton…etc). This team has DEPTH. Look at Marcel Hossa. Shanahan is out and the guy steps up to become a hot goal scorer in the NHL. Look at Daniel Girardi and Tomas Pock, they still keep a tight defense. Look at the recent Brandon Dubinsky. He had his best game against the Senators. I am still not sure of his NHL potential as far as offense, but he looks good, he is big, skates very well and is definitely NHL ready. Petr Prucha, sure he may not have scored as much, but he never takes a shift off. The guy hits in the corners and plays. Matt Cullen, stepped up his game. Sean Avery, stepping up his game. Next season, the Rangers are looking at: Marcel Hossa, Brandon Dubinsky, Tomas Pock, Daniel Girardi, Jaarko Immonen, and possibly Nigel Dawes. Not to mention that David Liffiton will get the call up to replace Rachunek. The prospects are starting to get NHL ready and the Rangers are looking at depth next season with skill. When was the last time the Rangers had that? So, that’s the good news. At least we’re looking at young Rangers who should be able to make the NHL next season or two. The playoffs hopes for the Rangers lie in the two games against the Philadelphia Flyers, and the must wins against the New York Islanders.

11. Montreal Canadiens

These guys are in a similar situation as the Rangers, as far as injuries, but I have no faith in this team. Why? The morale may be low. Yes, two solid wins as of late, but Sergei Samsonov claiming that it was a mistake signing in Montreal is not helpful. Players may still be scratching their heads at Craig Rivet’s departure and no help added since that. Alex Kovalev is not 100%. This team will be depending on its depth and young players, much like the Rangers. The only difference is that defense wins games for the Rangers. Montreal’s defense? Not too good, at all. It ranks 23rd in the league. Cristobal Huet may soon come back and that may be a plus, although the Frenchman’s numbers since late December have not been too good either. Questionable morale, weak defense; doesn’t sound like good news to me. Still, I am a huge Saku Koivu fan and he is the only one I have a lot of faith in to get the team to pull itself together and win. Montreal’s schedule is not that easy, every game against the East, pretty much, and they are only one game above .500 against Eastern Conference teams.

12. Boston Bruins

This team goes on useless winning streaks. Why are they useless? Because they later go on winless streaks. Goaltending is an issue. Defense is second worst in the NHL. Offense is 19th in the NHL. The schedule ahead is extremely tough as the only sure shot win would be their next game against the Washington Capitals. Who do they face later? They have twelve games against the likes of NYR, MTL, PIT, OTT, ATL, NJD, BUF. ……………….. Ouch. They have to beat Montreal three of three games if they want any hope, but I just see it as unlikely. This team can easily go on a winless streak with the kind of hockey that they play. They are seven points behind, not a chance.

13. Florida Panthers

Once again this team goes hot on a late run, similar to last year’s 13 game winning streak. I don’t get it, why now and not before? Obviously losing most of your offense is not going to help, the defense is decent, but not that great, and goaltending didn’t get great up until this past month or so. They are seven points out, not a chance unless the teams ahead of them start losing games in a row. I like how Stephen Weiss has stepped up, and Nathan Horton is starting to hit the back of the net. I like this team and with improvements in the summer, it has a much better shot next season. The schedule ahead does not seem too hard either, although they HAD to win against the Hurricanes and they missed that opportunity, despite getting shafted by the refs. The Cats have seven games against division rivals. Those are must wins as they play excellent against the Lightning, Washington should be easy to beat, and Carolina must be beaten. Those are 14 precious points. They should be able to beat the Flyers, so make it 16 points, and against Northeast teams, they actually have a good record against the NE Division (10-5-3), so they may try and steal a point or two against either Ottawa or Buffalo. So, with 17 or so points, they should be able to finish the season with 86-88 points. Considering that both the Islanders and the Hurricanes are just five games away from getting 88 points, the Panthers have no chance. But, they have something to prove and that is finishing above .500 for a second straight season, without Roberto Luongo. It’s a good team and sometimes I sit back and think what it would have been like had Bertuzzi played 75 games or so. This team is ready to make the playoffs soon, and next season should be quite interesting.

Anyway, thanks for reading as always and comments are much appreciated as I’d like your thoughts as well.

Micki Peroni

Vice-Administrator


90 Responses to East Rat Race

  1. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    no, but you're praising of Halak makes little sense.

  2. leafsrbest2isaretard says:

    i hardly praised him at the NHL level… i simly said he is the best goalie in the AHL……. and he is…. ask anyone who follows hockey… he was the talk of the all star game and he has the best numbers in the AHL…. prove me wrong if you like….. as for NHL… well one day maybe… certainly not yet.

  3. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    you cant win a stanely cup in the ahl.

  4. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    hey, dumb and dumber why don't you stop calling each other childish names.

  5. leafsrbest2isaretard says:

    dude…. seriously….. who said you could? i know taht whole fiasco of postings was hard to follow but Halak being a good nhl goalie was never posted by me….. talk of Halak came about because some dummy was bored after school… this is irrelavant

  6. leafsrbest2isaretard says:

    i am being immature… quite true……………… follow what you preach dummy

  7. PaulK123 says:

    The Habs were in fourth place a few months ago, and I said they would fall down, while all of you Habs fans were saying "we're contenders". No looks whos laughing. The Habs are on a freefall and with Kovalev and Huet out, they'll drop, now I will show u both teams, as they currently are (I won't include injured players), and tell me which team has a bigger chance at making the playoffs:

    Toronto Maple Leafs:

    Ponikarovsky__Sundin__Antropov
    Steen__Perreault__Tucker
    O'Neill__Wellwood__Kilger
    Battaglia__Stajan__Pohl
    Belak, Deveraux

    Kubina__McCabe
    Gill__White
    Coliacovo__Woznewski
    Kronwall

    ___Raycroft___
    ___Aubin____

    Injuries: Newbury, Peca, Kaberle

    Montreal Canadiens:

    Johnson__Koivu__Ryder
    Latendresse__Bonk__Samsonov
    Kostitsyn__Higgins__Plekanec
    Murray__Lapierre__Downey
    ????

    Souray__Komisarek
    Markov__Dandenault
    Niinimaa__Bouillon
    Gorges

    ___Halak___
    __Aebisher__

    Injuries: Huet, Kovalev, Begin, Perezhogin

    My Pick: Leafs

  8. Gretzkin says:

    Am I the only one that thinks that every second article posted doesn't need to be where everyone will end up in the Eastern Conference?

    We all know it's Dogfight, but with 12 or so games remaining, is this the dribble we need to deal with after every game?
    Buddy did a nice article, beter than the last 17 pertaining to this… but seriously kids, are we going to have an article about how the East will be won after every game???
    It's close, we all know this.
    But boring guesses after every game is getting a bit, well, much…
    Am I alone?
  9. markjohnston says:

    there's not really a whole lot else going on right now that's more interesting.

    and, as always, I invite you to NOT click on articles you don't want to read. simply scrolling by them will do.

    taking the time to not only click on, but comment on the article does not show your lack of interest.

  10. chanman says:

    I know its the playoffs. Yes, anything can happen. We saw the oilers prove that last year.
    Not discrediting the oilers any, but they picked up a hot goaltender, a great scorer in sampsonov, and a couple other pieces who I disremember names of right now.

    My point being, I would have to find it slim to unlikly that whoever does make it into the 7th & 8th slots would get past either Buffalo or NJ in the first round. Seriously. Neither of these teams are the Red Wings who feed off of weakling division opponents and boast whopper points but choke like dogs on chicken bones come April.
    Buffalo- #1 league offence. NJ -#1 league defence. NE division – very competitive. No slouch points. Nearly the same in Central for NJ.
     It will be a short series.

  11. ranger_fan says:

    HEY MIK

    Am I the only one who would love to see Baranka over Liffiton? I love the idea of playing the kids even in clutch times, but are the ones ready to take the next step getting the chances? I think Dubinsky is ready and could get some more ice time, and still wonder why they did what they did with Dawes earlier.

    Another question I have is… Kaspar… is Slats afraid he will be claimed from re-entry waivers? Or is it still conditioning issues?

    Lastly Henrik looks like a goalie who might need a breather this upcoming back to back, and honestly Valiquette looks like a goalie whos size is the only reason he has made it this far. He is not square, quick, possess and big stregnths, nor can handle rebounds! Al Montoya whilst still probably not going to win us big games could use the experience, and with Weekes contract almost up… may be we could get an indicator if he could go 25-30 games next season.

  12. Gretzkin says:

    Thanks for being the host that can let me know what I can, cannot, should and should not do.

    Thanks for the invite…
    "taking the time to not only click on, but comment on the article does not show your lack of interest"
    -Maybe, maybe not, but actually, probably not. Taking the time to write that I have a lack of interest is a totally different animal. Like, it's actually obvious and I'm voicing against it…
    I realize that there isn't much going on besides the playoff races, and the one in the East is interesting much like the one in the West was last year at this time.
    The thing is, we get this whole new set of predictions after every game, and articles that simply repeat the previous ones. Pretty much word for work. 
    The Goombas that run this site should just pick the best one and leave it running, instead of letting every other 14 year old sit and write the same stuff as the last.
    Real original, by the way guys, nice work!!!
    My favorite part is when they say "Not set in stone"… Yeah, thanks Jimmy! 
    Anyways, thanks again mark johnston for inviting me to whatever you were talking about.
    BTW, this was the best of the multitude of articles that are exactly the same as of late… but I guess our man had enough of the same to compare it to, so it count's for naught.
    But nice going on being a jack-monkey there mark johnston, well done.
  13. UWSensFan says:

    Just because a goalie can win 35+ games in the regular season, it doesn't mean they can win in the playoffs…just ask Lalime

  14. TheDugg1er says:

    I hate to say it, but that Leafs roster is about 10 times as good looking than the canadiens roster. That coupled with the fact the Leafs are on a tear. I really hope they both make the playoffs though but I doubt that will happen.

  15. TheDugg1er says:

    I like how you try to one up him by saying young man, when right before that you say he has some form of retardation. Maybe it's just me, but when I call someone a little boy you try to sound intellectual in your post. And besides I'm only 17 anyways, hahahahahaha.

  16. Gretzkin says:

    Phil: Do you ever have deja vu Mrs. Lancaster?
    Mrs. Lancaster: I don't think so, but I could check with the kitchen.

    P.S. markjohnston is a brown noser, but what else is new?
  17. Gretzkin says:

    "We saw the oilers prove that last year.
    Not discrediting the oilers any, but they picked up a hot goaltender, a great scorer in sampsonov, and a couple other pieces who I "disremember" names of right now."

    -Way to think it through and show that to the rest of the world smarty pants.
    Real hockey follower aren't ya?
    How could you discredit anyone you didn't watch or know about?
    I hope you enjoy the playoffs. The first round can be full of surprises, but if I were you, I'd just imagine that the #1 seed will win the cup, skip the whole thing and wait for next year.
    The Presidents Trophy and the Stanley Cup don't exactly have the same name on it every year, do they?
    Or, I guess we could just stop at the Presidents and skip the Cup altogether…
    Anything can happen?
    Apparently not, according to the chanman…
  18. habs_punk says:

    How many 21 year old goalies are there that have shown they can do anything at an NHL level? If Halak was even putting up numbers similar to Raycroft in the NHL at this stage in his career, then that would be something to talk about. There is nothing negative about Halak's lack of NHL experience at this stage in his career. I don't know why you're so hung up on these Halak vs. Raycroft comparisons. One is supposed to be an NHL starting goalie, the other is still developing at the minor league level. Completely different cases. Is Raycroft better than Halak? Right now, yes. That's obvious. But who cares? Should we give Raycroft a standing ovation for being better than a 21 year old prospect? Seriously.

  19. mikster says:

    No, you’re not the only one who wants to see Baranka, as i would too. But, i believe he came off an injury not too long ago and the WolfPack still need to stay competitive (can’t steal all their top players). The difference between Baranka and Liffiton is that Baranka plays a sound two-way defensive game from his end, even though he can be physical. I think the Rangers want to add muscle and character, though, and Liffiton would be the guy to drop the gloves against the Islanders, he would put a hard hit on an opponent, and he is strong…so…he should be able to do a good job to clear the crease.

    I am pretty sure that’s why they want to see Liffiton. It doesn’t mean that they won’t call up Baranka though. If Liffiton has a bad coupl eof games or so, you can see a change.

    Kasparaitis is sidelined indefinitely.

    I’d play Valiquette against the Flyers, or Bruins, and give Lundqvist a breather, even though he gets two days off now. Chances are slim, so…you have to roll the dice with the best goalie you got.

    Al Montoya has been the AHL’s hottest goalie as of late and he is starting to put up huge performances. I’d expect him to give Lundqvist a lot of competition in September.

  20. mikster says:

    I didn’t predict anything. I analyzed the current situation and those are the current standings.

  21. mikster says:

    Trash talk is not acceptable. It’s rididculous that some of you force me to read every comment to make sure the content is appropriate. And, you’re doing it under my column? It’s a waste of time for me to play school teacher to immature people who bash others. Cut the crap and talk hockey.

    I don’t mind heated debates, but dumb ones such as the ones i had to delete? Ridiculous.

  22. leafs_spade says:

    well i find them interesting and im sure many others do, r we to stop bc u dont like them? bottom line is that if u dont like em dont read em. simple.

  23. leafs_spade says:

    well i find them interesting and im sure many others do, r we to stop bc u dont like them? bottom line is that if u dont like em dont read em. simple.

  24. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    i wasn't the one making the comparison, it was mtlman who brought raycroft into the discussion.

  25. markjohnston says:

    you're quite welcome and I thank you for your politeness!

    I'll be sure to scroll past your article on "Different Types of Tape Used by the Nashville Predators" and stick to the exciting elements of the game.

  26. markjohnston says:

    I just hope (fingers crossed) I get invited to mikster's birthday party.

  27. chanman says:

    I did watch the oilers. They are not in my conference, so I am not exactly "up" on the roster , and its been a year. I had forgotten who else they picked up at the deadline.

    "disremember" ….whats the problem? Expand your vocabulary and you'll have less questions buddy.

    My point being, I would have to find it slim to unlikly that whoever does make it into the 7th & 8th slots would get past either Buffalo or NJ in the first round.

    I made my point. Whoever gets into the 7th & 8th will have a harder road. The oilers were the first team in an 8th spot to beat a 1st spot since the Sharks killed the blues.
     It was at least 5 years ago. Go look it up and correct me for being ignorant.

  28. Twisted69 says:

    Why is everybody saying that the bruins have no chance in making the playoffs??? are you looking at the same team has me?

    Win Over MTL = 3 to 1

    Win over TB = 6 to 3

    Win Over NJ = 4 to 1

    Win Over DET = 6 to 3

    Plus, Boston are 7 pts short of 8th place with two games in hand… thier almost has near has the Canadien and the rangers… minus 1 pts.

    Boston has 3 games against MTL and 2 games against the Rangers… Every dreams are still possible… Just don't count the bruins out right now!

    Anyway, i stay realistic and say that the bruins won't make the playoffs… anyways they need a goalie in the off season, and maybe a good draft pick! Maybe a future Def prospect… Would like to see Biron in nets for the B's if he doesn't sign in Phily… Maybe Mason :p

    Any way… this is a hot race!

    Twisted

  29. 92-93 says:

    ok, if leaf fans want a prediction that they can take to the bank, here it is:
    if the Leafs get anything less than 3pts or 4pts from the back-to-back games against the Caps and Habs, they will miss the playoffs.

    sounds ludicrous?

    well, take a look at the next 3 games after this weekend for the Leafs (Sabres twice, Devils) … then take a look at 7 games after that. the only way the leafs would have a hope to make the playoffs after taking 2 pts or fewer against the Habs and Caps would be to win at least 2 of the 3 games against the Sabres and Devils. good luck with that.

  30. mikster says:

    Great points, yet…..the B’s are such a streaky team with poor defense and mediocre offense. Not easy to trust them, despite their records against those teams.

  31. Frozengun says:

    Did you not watch the WJC.   Carey Price is the reason Canada won this year and by the way when the Leafs were trading prospectsdraft picks  for a slim chance at a Stanley cup the habs were developing there's. 

    Open your eyes and look at the stats first….
    Hamilton Bulldogs  79  points
    Toronto Marlies    54 points

    …So who has better prospect.  I would say the farm team with better numbers.

    Halak: Leading the league
    Pogge: Not even in the top 20.

    So should I keep going….

  32. Frozengun says:

    Leaf fans don't know s*** about hockey.

    Did you not watch the WJC.   Carey Price is the reason Canada won this year and by the way when the Leafs were trading prospectsdraft picks  for a slim chance at a Stanley cup the habs were developing there's. 

    Open your eyes and look at the stats first….
    Hamilton Bulldogs  79  points
    Toronto Marlies    54 points

    …So who has better prospect.  I would say the farm team with better numbers.

    Halak: Leading the league
    Pogge: Not even in the top 20.

    So should I keep going….

  33. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    Right, you are the AHL expert. Note the Marlies are a much younger and underdeveloped team, aslo they lost about 7 top players this season.
     
    Pogge has thejunior numbers, and is in an earlier stage of development Besides, how have the habs done the past decade? they better have a good farm team with the high draft coices they've had. Note, Price played in WJC in front of Staal, and didn't even make the WJC team a year earlier, Pogge was the starter there.

  34. leafsrbest2isaretard says:

    tunnel vision, seeing what we want to see seems to be a real problem with fans….. everyone thinks their team is the best.  yes, the marlies lost players, the bulldogs lost players… at least 4 and their goalie for the last month……  pogge was a year rather is a year older than price… one would think you have go go with more experienced netminder….. lastly stall is not the next coming of christ, a lot of amazing defensemen played in front of Pogge,   tunnel vision my friends….  i do it all the time…. then i step back and say hmmmmmm……  what do the other teams actually do or have?
     so all this to say…..  give me a F&^%$ing break with this.  reality is both the Habs and the Leafs are quite an embarassment this year……

  35. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    Speak for yourself, Raycroft aside the leaf skaters have played very well this season. Pogge was drafted in the 3rd round, Price 5th OVERALL. WJC stats are hugely inflated, Pogge's WHL stats, in front of a questionable calgary team, are what impressed most people. The marlies lost their top 3 scorers, and their head coach, and are a VERY young team. The bulldogs have more vets like Willis, Bayda, Murley, aucoin, Laaksonen. Guys that are not prospects, but AHL stars without a hope of becoming NHL regulars. The Marlies have 2 guy like that (Westrum, Engleheart) but the rest are young guys preparing for the NHL (earl, Murphy, Williams, Foster). So the fact that the bulldogs have a better record means nothing.

  36. Frozengun says:

    Seems like a bunch of excuses to me.  What have the habs done is the last 10 years.  no cups like the leafs.  But we wouldn't want to embarrass you guys and look back. 20, 30, 40 years.

    I don't know why I'm arguing because MTL has the youngest team in the league and a healthy amount of prospects in the minors so it just shows you that they have good prospects.

  37. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    he habs have good prospects, but definetly not with the bulldogs

  38. J-Man2020 says:

    This site should be called leafsfans.com because all of the fans are leafs fans.  How can they pick the leafs to make, the LEAFS SUCK.  RAYCROFT SUCKS.  Rangers are going to lock up the 7th or 8th spot because of KING HENRIK.

  39. LeafsJaysRapsBillsManU says:

    Thanks for taking the trouble to sign up for this site and post your trenchant insight. The quality argument that you make leads me to wonder which you went to, Cambridge or Oxford?

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