It could all come down to Tuesday
I know there have been countless articles about playoff races and such, but after looking at the standings and schedules I found something very interesting.
After a shootout loss to Carolina, Tampa Bay sits on 90 points with only 2 games remaining (tonight vs. Carolina at home, Tuesday vs. Washington).
Atlanta is currently in 9th place on 87 points with 3 games remaining (tonight vs. Boston, Monday at Washington, Tuesday at Florida).
Toronto has come back from the dead and has gone 7-1-2 in their past ten games to sit in 10th place at 86 points with 3 games left (tonight vs. Ottawa, Sunday at Buffalo, Tuesday vs. Pittsburgh).
If Tampa loses to Carolina tonight, Atlanta gains 3 out of 4 points in their two games against Boston and Washington, and by the grace of God, and hopes of all Leafs fans, Toronto manages to beat Ottawa at home and the Sabres in Buffalo on consecutive days, then all 3 of these teams could sit on 90 points with one game remaining, which each team plays on Tuesday. This scenario is very possible considering each respective teams’ recent performances. This playoff race is far from over.
I got this next part from tsn to elaborate:
# Any combination of the Lightning’s point gains or Leafs’ point losses totaling three puts Toronto out of the postseason. Toronto could win its games outright to finish with 92 points. Tampa could also finish with 92 points with two straight overtime/shootout losses. The first tie-breaker would be wins, and both teams would have the same number at 42. The next tie-breaker is the head-to-head season matchup – which is even. Goal differential is the next deciding factor. The Leafs are – 13 through Friday and would have to beat Tampa’s mark of -5 through Friday.
# Atlanta could be eliminated on Saturday if Tampa Bay wins and the Thrashers lose in regulation or overtime. If the Thrashers win Saturday, they stay alive at least until Monday.
# Tampa Bay can clinch a playoff berth with a Thrashers loss and a Lightning win or overtime loss. Tampa Bay holds the tiebreaker with Atlanta.
# The Montreal Canadiens need one point or an Atlanta regulation loss/shootout loss/overtime loss to clinch a playoff spot. If Montreal loses in regulation Saturday, the Thrashers can still catch them by winning their final three games but would need Montreal to lose in regulation in the season finale on Tuesday.
It seems very implausible for the Canadiens to miss out considering their current position in the standings and that’s why I didn’t consider them.
My prediction… Bob Hartley & Don Waddell will both hold true on their playoff prediction allowing the Thrashers to clinch their first playoff berth. An Atlanta vs. Carolina/Ottawa series would be one of the most intriguing 1-8 playoff matchups in a while. Neither of the three teams has a proven playoff goaltender, that is unless Hasek comes back soon, and all three teams have some serious firepower. They are the top three in goals for in the Eastern Conference, and are all in the top 5 in the league in that stat.
Let the games begin!