Eastern Playoff Race

The East looks to be locked for seats 1-7, making seat 8 a hot commodity.

Three teams are fighting for that final playoff spot, The Leafs, The Hurricanes, and the Canadians. All three teams were quiet on deadline day, meaning they will all have to find the talent within to push them over the top.

In Goal, the Hurricanes have the advantage. Raycroft has perfomed poorly this season, and the Habs will be missing Huet for a while. Ward has been average this season, but has a history of perfoming well down the stretch.

On the blue line, it is the Habs that have the advantage. Soray has scored 22 goals, and the entire defense core has contributed to scoring. Markov and Komisarek have become one of the best shut down pair in the NHL right now. The Leafs are a close second with many offensive weapons to choose from at the blue line. The Hurricanes have played well defensively, but there is not much offense comming from the defense.

Up front it is the Leafs who have the edge. With the newly aquired Perreault now in the toolbox, the Leafs have four lines that are capable of scoring goals, when healthy. The Hurricanes are a close second, with a very strong top 2 lines.

These three teams seem fairly equaly matched. It is a race that is sure to come down to the wire. Personally I think it will come down to goaltending. One of the goalie on this team has to step up and pull his team into the post season.


49 Responses to Eastern Playoff Race

  1. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    The Thrashers aren't a "lock" by any means.

  2. FrankTheTank3388 says:

    Are you serious? I hope you realize that 4 points seperate the last 4 playoff spots. Hell, the fourth place team is only 7 points ahead of 8th. The only two teams I think it's safe to say will definately make the playoffs no matter what are Buffalo and New Jersey. At the same time, only 8 points seperate 8th from 13th. This is a tight playoff race for the whole conference, not the three teams you listed….. Look a little deeper at the standings instead of what teams you think will make the playoffs.

  3. markjohnston says:

    I would say the spots 5-8 aren't locked at all.

    the pens in 5th will most likely make the playoffs, with 77pts and 18 games left…so let's give them one spot.

    that leaves THREE SPOTS up for grabs, not one.

    three spots for islanders, thrashers, canes, habs and leafs.

    isles: GOOD: smyth a key addition, they're feeling good and have 18 games left BAD: they're the islanders

    thrashers: GOOD: good additions, young players who have a lot left BAD: only 16 games left, do they even know what playoffs are

    canes: GOOD: cup champs, good core, goalie BAD: only 15 games left and they are in 8th already – not looking so good.

    habs: GOOD: didn't fold at deadline and have lots of potential BAD: potential hasn't been turned to production this year (samsanov, kovalev) and no huet. also, only 15 games left

    leafs: GOOD: tucker, wellwood, kubina probably back soon, 17 games left BAD: inconsistent all year, raycroft is a ?, kaberle?

    looking at that quick breakdown, I would put the habs and the canes in 9th and 10th based on fewer games and question marks…but I fully admit to having really NO idea what will actually happen. It's hard to imagine the canes missing the playoffs when toronto, NY isles and the thrashers do, but that's what's in the cards.

    I am a montreal fan, but I just can't see them pulling it off. I think toronto and montreal are pretty much in the same boat this season – questionable goaltending, scoring droughts. I give it to the leafs due to games left. if it was montreal who had the potential for 4 more points, I would put them in and the leafs out.  

  4. PaulK123 says:

     Raycroft has not performerd poorly this year numnuts! He has carried the team in the last 2 months, your a duck-rider.

  5. Hoondog2 says:

    One hot streak in the playoffs for Ward does not make for "a history of performing well down the stretch".

  6. flyer_fly says:

    Buffalo
    New Jersey
    Tampa Bay
    Ottawa
    Pittsburgh
    Islanders
    Carolina
    Atlanta

    Montreal
    Toronto
    Rangers
    Boston
    Florida
    Washington
    Philadelphia

    These are by no means for sure, this is just my best guess as to what could happen

    If Atlanta dosn't make it then their franchise is pretty much over, the fans may not return next year.

    If Montreal dosnt make it we will most likley see a major overhaul in their roster getting rid of most of the Floaters

    If Toronto dosnt make it then it may spell the end of Mats Sundin in Toronto aswellas a few other players (Tucker)

  7. kamullia says:

    That is absolute rubbish that 1-7 are a lock. Just take a look at the Penguins. The team that was the hottest team in the NHL now has only won 2 games out of the last 6, and one of those was in a shootout, while the other was in overtime. Part of the reason was Fleury not playing up to par, but after the deadline, Fleury had a good game and was the only reason the Penguins hung tight to win in a shootout against the Rangers.

    Since the deadline, the Penguins are not playing well at all, as Sidney Crosby vented yesterday, and the new line combinations and addition of Roberts has produced not much of anything, to the point were the entire team lines are being shuffled around by Therrien. This is not a time to be shuffling all of your lines, but getting them to gel. Eaton is out for 2 weeks, and possibly up to 4 weeks.

    And if the personnel issues were not enough, the entire schedule left for the Penguins is against teams that they either have not done well against this year, or top teams of the east (NJ, Buffalo) or are divisional opponents (always tough, except maybe the Flyers), or are teams in the midst of the hunt for a spot (typically the most dangerous at this time of year).

    The Penguins are in serious scrambling mode at this time trying to right up the ship, and quite possibly the addition of Roberts and Laraque, may have thrown off the lines that were being so successful, to the point were the only way to get back to those lines, would mean putting Roberts out of the top two, and possibly scratching Laraque, neither of which will happen.

    If the Penguins do not find a solution and extremely fast (STAT), this team will be out of the top 8 in the next week or two at most.

    Atlanta and Carolina both have not been doing so hot either. And that means even without improvement, unless those teams right themselves up, teams like Montreal and Toronto will not have to do much more than they have been doing lately, because those other teams will hand them a playoff spot.

  8. BieksaForMVP says:

    He's been terrible lately, and who hasn't been good this year? Ed Belfour is playing good, but does that means he's had a good season? No. Luongo has been bad, but does that means he's had a bad season? No. Raycroft was good for i don't know 10-13 or 14 games, but he's playing bad.

  9. Rickoo7 says:

    yeah the last two month…but the season start in september….not in january!!!

  10. BieksaForMVP says:

    Dipietro has had an outstanding year, so I say he gets the Isle's in.

    I think Atlanta will barely get in, and will be out in 5 games. They have 2 and a half offensive threats (Kovi, Hossa, and Thachuk is the half), and the 6th place team in the West has Cheechoo, Thornton, Marleau, Guerin, Michalik, and Beriner and Clowe when they play. Atlanta has nothing at the back end. Zhitnik is terrible, but San Jose has Carle, Ehrhoff, Vlasic, Hannan (defensive d man), and maybe Rivet and Mclearen are equal to Zhitnik. Atlanta has Lethonan, but San Jose have Toskela, and Nabokov. Even though Lethenan might be better, what if he goes down? Hedberg is not a star goalie, but both of San Jose's goalies are.

    Toronto, and Montreal won't make it, because neither of them have good goalies (Huet is good, but he's done for the year), Mntreal can't score, and Toronto can't make teams not score on them.

    The Cane's have a great offensive and Cole, Staal, Whitney, Walker, Brind'Amour, and Williams all have 40+ points. They defensive is weak, but I think they'll get the 7th playoff spot.

  11. FrankTheTank3388 says:

    Why would Atlanta's franchise be over just because they don't make the playoffs this year? It's a new franchise, just because they don't make the playoffs in their first 10 years isn't a bad thing at all. That and look at their franchise players that people will keep coming to watch, they have Kovalchuk and Lehtonen. Give them a great center and they will do well. That's all I see them needing in order to make it to the playoffs.

  12. LeafsRule110 says:

    what the ***** you talking about, i see toronto making playoffs but habs not, canes to also miss playoffs…..

  13. markjohnston says:

    how can it be the end for tucker when he just signed a new deal with a no trade?  

  14. markjohnston says:

    way to back up your comment.

  15. HotDogAllDressed says:

    tell `em why you mad son…

  16. intelligentscorpio says:

    I must agree with you about the line juggling and break-up. Therrien is a control freak. He keeps changing the lines not even for each game, but for shift in and shift out. The biggest thing for the Pens right now is to gel. Roberts is an excellent addition but where does he fit in. Not on the Crosby line, nor on the Malkin line. Laraque can play on the 3rd or 4th lin, no problem.
    Malkin with Ouellette and Staal were doing so well. Therrien needs to leave them alone. Eaton's absense will hurt them also. 
    I do believe, they have enough to make the playoffs. At which position, I do not want to guess. 

    Having said all that, the Islanders, Montreal, Toronto and Carolina arent in that great a shape either. They will make their own mistakes as well. 
    so, it is still possible for a team to get in on the 8th slot, maybe even Rangers, but I don't think so. Montreal, Toronto will not make it, that is my opinion.

  17. mikster says:

    Good character win by the Rangers today. I cannot believe that the Blues have had an excellent record since December. This team has actually turned out to be one of the toughest to beat in the league.

    Rangers are now 4 points from 8th with games in hand. Had they won against Pittsburgh, would have been just 3 points apart.

    It’s a real crap shoot.

  18. nyrhockey094 says:

    I agree. I dont get how any one can be dumb enough to write an aricle such as this. 3 teams for the final spot? Oh of course lets include the laughs habs and canes, but not the Rangers who are two points behind, or boston who im pretty sure is only 3 points behind. It doesnt shock me that a complete and utter leaf tool wrote this article.

  19. nyrhockey094 says:

    It is, and they are very much as in it as any one, despite what this guy wrote. You cant include the Habs and Leafs and not put in the Rangers and bruins who are only 2 and i think 3 points behind.

    Avery was a great trade!!!!!! and if prucha plays like this every game… we are sure to have a interesting final few games.

  20. rangers914 says:

    exactly this guy is out of his mind rangers are 4 points out with games in hand on everyone but the islanders and toronto including 3 games in hand on carolina and not to mention the rest of the rangers schedule includes

    4 games vs. islanders
    3 games vs. penguins
    1 game vs. toronto, carolina, and atlanta
    2 games vs. canadiens
    4 games vs. teams behind them in the standings

    thats thats 10 games with the potential for a 4 point swing against teams ahead of them in the standings if won you cant not put them there and esp not with game is in hand on most teams

  21. caliplayr21 says:

    people should have to pass a reading and writing exam before posting on here. i can't decipher all these sentences – or lack thereof. 

    besides, we all know the caps are going on a tear to make the playoffs. don't try and cover it up.

  22. mikster says:

    The games against the Isle’s will dictate what happens for the Rangers, in hopes that two of the teams above the Rangers fall out of it. Basically the Rangers have to go like…apprx…13-9 and other teams have to stay at .500 or less.

    It’s tough, but doable.

  23. nyrhockey094 says:

    13-9 if every other team goes .500. :-/ I dont think they are going to go .500 mik. I think the Rangers at bare minimum have to go 15-7 to make the playoffs. In order to comfortably make it it would actually have to be more along the lines of 17-5.

    A first round exit to buffalo will do this franchise no good. However a first round against New Jersey, Tampa, or Atlanta… is much more doable. Im hoping they dont play Atlanta in the first round if they make it, already one of my teams will get eliminated, and if they both make it, 25% chance ill actually have a team to root for in the cup finals. 🙂

  24. rangers914 says:

    ok well the way the leafs and habs are playing now i think theyd be lucky to finish out at 500 atlanta seems to have goten back on track but the rangers need one thing and that is HENRIK LUNDQVIST i think it was a brilliant move to star valliquete today and give henrik an extra rest day before the big push where hell most likely start the rest of the year…henrik will have to be dominate like he has been if not rangers might as well pack it in

    i also think with tyutin out they should bring up marc stall for the push and see what he can do and rotate him in and out of the lineup with pock

  25. rangers914 says:

    the rangers have a better goaltender then all 3 of those teams in lundqvist

  26. flyer_fly says:

    Your Mom has a no trade clause

  27. Aetherial says:

    I am guessing both Montreal and Toronto will be on the outside looking in.

    Montreal, for some reason seemed to lose every ounce of heart they had. I have never seen a team look less dangerous or inspiring overall than they have in the past couple months.

    Injuries, HORRIBLE goaltending and overpaid defensemen will kill Toronto. Yes I said horrible. They hype about Raycroft carrying the team is ridiculous. He is, when at the TOP of his game, an average goalie, at best.

  28. LeafsRule110 says:

    here it goes again, freqen nitwits saying Raycroft is that bad and all that horrible, but remember idiots, he won the Calder Trophy, as best rookie of year, only reason why he is losing is because of the many injuries that was thought to be descending but now growing, and *****off moron, he is an excellent goaltender, has robbed many games, and in my belief, he is an above average goaltender right now……………your opinion dosnt matter because you dont know what the ***** you talking about nitwit, you can say he is the best or the worst goaltender in the league, but  we dont ccare what the ***** you say beacuse we all know your mentally ill……

  29. RagingRon says:

    Hey buddy, Raycroft sucks and the leafs won't make the playoffs. Worse yet, I don't think they'll even be in the playoff race next season so enjoy this race. This is the reality and you have to face cause JFJ is a clown.

    -Tukka Rask.

  30. Tim_Silver says:

    There's basically Atlanta, Islanders, Carolina, Habs, Leafs, Rangers, Boston vying for the remaining 3 spots, 6-7-8.

    I believe those spots will go to, in this order: Islanders, Atlanta, Rangers.

    These three teams have players who can lead there team and change the outcome of the game at anytime… NYI – Smyth, DiPietro, ATL – Hossa, Kovalchuk, Thachuk, NYR – Jagr, Straka, Nylander…I'm not saying these teams are better than the others, but at this moment, I think they deserve to make the playoffs and would enjoy seeing them much more than the other three.

    Leafs wont make it due to lack of scoring and suspect goaltending.

    Carolia…post championship set-back?

    Boston…slow defence, uninspired offense.

    I am a die-hard HABS fan, but I dont think they deserve to make the playoffs, and not doing so will serve as the MAJOR WAKE-UP the team, management and players need. They should have begun this process at the deadline, getting rid of Souray and all other overpaid players. They need to change the nucleus of the team, as over the past ten years or so, they have achieved nothing. They have tried firing the coaches (Trembaly, Vigneault, Julien, Therrien) and most of those have gone to lead better teams, successfully. Only to prove the players are the problem, not the coaches.  They should bring in the influx of young talented players they have and let them battle it out for the remainder of the season. Players such as Grabovski, Chipchura, Cote, Emelin, Paveltenko, Kostitsyn, Latendresse, Lapierre, Komisarek, Plekanec, Perezoghin, Higgins, Halak, Price….they do have a bright future. But management needs to surround these players with HARD-WORKING veterans, and not lazy-ass, floaters.

    How is it that our best forward since the Christmas break is the least paid player in the team(Plekanec – 450K)? How is it that the player showing the greatest heart is a fourth-liner who just a week ago broke his foot (Begin-all heart)? How is it that our top 5 offensive players total the worst +/- combined in the entire NHL (Souray -19, Ryder -24, Koivu -18, Higgins -13, Kovalev -11) !!!

    When management will realize this, they can move on to making the franchise what it once was. Bring players who want to win, play for the HABS and get rid of those who wait for things to happen and skate around like its Sunday morning during game-time.

  31. Tim_Silver says:

    There's basically Atlanta, Islanders, Carolina, Habs, Leafs, Rangers, Boston vying for the remaining 3 spots, 6-7-8.

    I believe those spots will go to, in this order: Islanders, Atlanta, Rangers.

    These three teams have players who can lead there team and change the outcome of the game at anytime… NYI – Smyth, DiPietro, ATL – Hossa, Kovalchuk, Thachuk, NYR – Jagr, Straka, Nylander…I'm not saying these teams are better than the others, but at this moment, I think they deserve to make the playoffs and would enjoy seeing them much more than the other three.

    Leafs wont make it due to lack of scoring and suspect goaltending.

    Carolia…post championship set-back?

    Boston…slow defence, uninspired offense.

    I am a die-hard HABS fan, but I dont think they deserve to make the playoffs, and not doing so will serve as the MAJOR WAKE-UP the team, management and players need. They should have begun this process at the deadline, getting rid of Souray and all other overpaid players. They need to change the nucleus of the team, as over the past ten years or so, they have achieved nothing. They have tried firing the coaches (Trembaly, Vigneault, Julien, Therrien) and most of those have gone to lead better teams, successfully. Only to prove the players are the problem, not the coaches.  They should bring in the influx of young talented players they have and let them battle it out for the remainder of the season. Players such as Grabovski, Chipchura, Cote, Emelin, Paveltenko, Kostitsyn, Latendresse, Lapierre, Komisarek, Plekanec, Perezoghin, Higgins, Halak, Price….they do have a bright future. But management needs to surround these players with HARD-WORKING veterans, and not lazy-ass, floaters.

    How is it that our best forward since the Christmas break is the least paid player in the team(Plekanec – 450K)? How is it that the player showing the greatest heart is a fourth-liner who just a week ago broke his foot (Begin-all heart)? How is it that our top 5 offensive players total the worst +/- combined in the entire NHL (Souray -19, Ryder -24, Koivu -18, Higgins -13, Kovalev -11) !!!

    When management will realize this, they can move on to making the franchise what it once was. Bring players who want to win, play for the HABS and get rid of those who wait for things to happen and skate around like its Sunday morning during game-time.

  32. ranger_fan says:

    Raycrofts rookie numbers were solid, but that was with bigger pads too. Since he has been mediocre. A goalie who gives who gives up about 3 goals a game is not spectacular by any means. There has got to be 15-20 starters in the league that are better which is why Ive said since they traded for him… He is a GREAT BACKUP, and only an average starter.

    Yet another prime example of someone from Leafs Nation who doesn't dare look outside of the box.

    And outa curiousity the Leafs best asset is the defense, or at least the most expensive… right? Raycroft should be a wall and not Mr Inconsistent.

    Usually I bash a person for their stupid comments, but you being a Leaf fan… I understand its not your fault

  33. NjDEVSFN says:

    RBC Center is just a house of horrors for the Devils.

    That being said, so is Phillips Arena lately.

    We've had Montreal's number the past 2 seasons and, after having been owned by the Islanders for about 10games, started beating them, but that was w/o Smyth.

    I don't want to "pick" the team cause it'll bite me in the ass, but obviously there are preferences.

  34. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    Leafs lack of scoring???

    What leafs are you talking about. The Leafs have more goals for than the Isles, Rangers, Habs, Thrashers, Bruins, Devils, Canes

  35. LeafsRule110 says:

    what the ***** you taking about, and why the ***** you wrote, -Tukka Rask, stfu you mother *****ing retarded LEaf Hater, just because LEafs are a NOrth AMerican organization icon, dosnt mean you gotta put your mother *****ing retarded opinion on our beloved Team, so stfu, kiss my shiny metal ass when the LEafs make the playoffs, biatch.

    -Darcy Tucker

  36. pensfan29 says:

    Pens need to play more consistant, these line combinations would help that:
    MALKIN-CROSBY-RECCHI
    ROBERTS-STAAL-OUELETT
    MALONE-CHRISTENSEN-ARMSTRONG
    LARAQUE-TALBOT-RUTUU

  37. lukeleim says:

    Predictions

    Eastern Conference:

    1. Buffalo
    2. New Jersey
    3. Tampa Bay
    4. Ottawa
    5. Pittsburgh
    6. NY Islanders
    7. Atlanta
    8. Toronto

  38. FrankTheTank3388 says:

    Slow defense? You being a Habs fan you had to have seen the game last night… We shut you down every chance you had. The few times the defense didn't stop you, Thomas stepped up and did. The only goal you guys scored was a fluky redirect in the five hole. One thing I was most impressed about the Bruins defense was Aaron Ward poking the puck away from Higgins. Hell, it was the second time I've ever seen a great defensive move on TSN. The first was actually when Chara kicked the puck out just in front of the goal line from behind Thomas a long time ago. And uninspired offense? We have two of the most talented centers in the league, with another one rising up in Kessel. And when guys like Tenkrat and Bochenski are scoring for you, who's to say they aren't inspired? The only thing hurting the Bruins really is a lack of consistency.

  39. Uncleben says:

    he had a fairly good start too, then broke down and aubin stepped up. then around november/december is when neither were performing

  40. J-Man2020 says:

    You are insane to think that the Maple Leafs will make the playoffs.  They suck and Montreal sucks too.  Carolina will not make it because only two teams from that division are going to the playoffs. Carolina is very inconsistent.  Montreal and Toronto have horrible goaltending.

    The Standings:

    1. Buffalo
    2. New Jersey
    3. Tampa Bay
    4. Ottawa
    5. Pittsburg
    6. Islanders
    7. Thrashers
    8. Rangers

    Tomorrow Rangers and Islanders, Rangers are going to have some revenge!

  41. BieksaForMVP says:

    Oh yeah the Leaf's are North America's team, even though two thirds of the U.S doesn't watch hockey. How are the Leaf's North America's team? Everyone hate's the Leaf's. Just because they show more games on National TV then everyone else it doesn't mean everyone likes them. I say the Hab's are the face of the NHL if any team is. Most people like the Hab's, and they don't have stupid fan's (not saying all Leaf's fans are, but i'm mainly talking about people like LeafsRule110). HOW ARE THE LEAF'S A BELOVED TEAM?!?! You can say they the most watched, but everyone still hate's the Leaf's. By the way if the Leaf's make the playoffs, let's plan 0 wins celebration instead of a Stanley Cup parade. The Leaf's aren't even comparable to any playoff team in the West. Calgary and Minnasota could kill the Leaf's. None of team's in the West will be surprise team's if they make because all 8 of those teams are great, so I think only New Jersey, and maybe Buffalo could win the Cup for the East.

    Why do we have pieces of trash like LeafsRule110 on this site? I'm not really being better by calling him trash, but I didn't say ***** YOU ***** *****ER *****ING ***** ***** *****ING *****ER!!!!

  42. kamullia says:

    I believed long ago, as I stated in my post, that Roberts does not belong in the top two lines due to his addition not making those lines gel, as it was proven in both games against the Rangers and against the Hurricanes.

    Lo and behold, and in the game against the Flyers, when once again those combinations were not working out, finally Therrien put Roberts on the third line with Christensen and Armstrong and presto, the line looks great, Christensen scores two goals, almost has a hat-trick.

    Therrien needs to forget about Roberts in the first two lines, period, and as bad as this sounds, put Malone back on the top line. And if something happens with Crosby, then they will have to retaliate later on with Laraque and/or Roberts making the other team’s top players mush via hard checks.

  43. RangerSteve says:

    Looks like the 6th, 7th and 8th place slot might be up for grabs by the end of this week.

  44. pensfan29 says:

    Raycroft = HOMO

  45. AHLoldie says:

    You mention Eaton being out for possibly 4 weeks.  It's amazing that they were 7 wins and 3 losses in the beginning of the year before he got hurt,  When he came back, they went 14-0-1 and lost 1 before getting hurt in a game.  The Pens record in games he played in was 21-4.  Without him, they are a different team.

  46. puckhead94 says:

    I will preface this by saying that yes I am a Rangers fan, and no I am not saying that they will make the playoffs. However, I think that you lose a lot of credibility when you don’t mention a team that is four points out of the last playoff spot in the East, with three games in hand on both the teams in 8th and 9th isn’t even in the discussion in regard to positioning.

    Now if that was an oversight on your part, or you just didn’t feel like typing any more, that’s fine. But if you think that goaltending is going to be the key factor, I’d like to ask you this. If you’ve got 1 game to win, who do you want as your goaltender? Andrew Raycroft?

    The Rangers have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. Will they do anything if they get there? Probably not. Buffalo will slaughter them. However, it’s unfair of you to not place them in the discussion.

    Just my thoughts.

  47. my_sphincter says:

    Raycroft:

    34th in S% at .894
    31st in GAA at 2.98

    Seems pretty piss poor to me.

  48. puckhead94 says:

    Leafs fan maybe?

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