17 March 2010
With less than a month remaining in the season, let's look at the standings and rate the possibility that a team will make the playoffs on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being no chance and 10 being definitely in.
Capitals-10-The easiest on to do, they've already clinched a playoff spot.
Penguins-10-In a race to win the Atlantic division with New Jersey, whether they finish on top or not, they're not going to fall out of the race at this point in the season.
Sabres-10-Whether or not they'd win the division was in doubt before the Olympic break, but considering how the Sens have done so poorly since returning to play, not only will the Sabres be in the playoffs, they're likely to win the division too.
Devils-10-Have a chance to overtake the Penguins for the division lead, but whether or not they win the Atlantic, they'll be in the playoffs and will likely have home ice advantage in the first round.
Senators-6-A low number for being so high in the standings, but having only one win since returning to action after the Olympics, the Senators are doing their recent ritual of stumbling down the stretch. Do have an eight point cushion over ninth, but their play as of late doesn't give them any security.
Canadiens-7-Highest they've been in the standings in a long time and riding a six game winning streak. What's scary is that they've played more games than every one else, but should have enough points over those teams behind them that even once the games played levels out, they'll be in the playoffs.
Flyers-6-A possibly injury to Leighton isn't going to help their chances across the next three and a half weeks. Whether or not he returns at 100% and whether or not Brian Boucher can play in his absense will have to be seen. Hungry teams behind them plus an injured goaltender doesn't seem like it would equal a lot of wins down the stretch.
Bruins-6-Tuukka Rask surprisingly is the reason they are here, not the defending Vezina holder Thomas. Savard injury will hurt their offense the remainder of the year, but should have enough to keep themselves in the top eight.
Rangers-5-The only team outside the top eight to actually say they have a chance of getting in the playoffs right now, Gaborik needs to stay healthy and Lundqvist needs to play like the elite goalie that he is. Points behind and more games played than teams in front of them, the work is cut of for this team.
Thrashers-5-Chelios is probably too little too late for this team; losing Kovalchuk meant the end of their season and it's starting to look more and more that way. Played well after he was traded, but have since cooled off. Another loss or two across their next few games and they'll officially be done.
Lightning-4-Spent the last quarter of the season as a one line team with St. Louis-Stamkos-Downie accounting for almost all of the offense. If those three could play 40-50 minutes a game, they'd be in good shape, but they can't, and the Lightning will fall short this year.
Islanders-3-Found themselves in playoff contention months into the year when most people expected them to be last from the beginning to the end. Started to fall down the standings a few months ago and never recovered and now they're too far back with not enough time to make up the ground they have before them.
Panthers-3-Year in year out for the Panthers, at this part of the season they aren't so far behind to be considered eliminated, but they're not close enough to be considered players to get in.
Hurricanes-2-Put together a decent winning streak recently but have lost their last couple games in a row. Getting off to such an awful start to the season doomed them.
Maple Leafs-1-Terrible start to the year, and never had any part of the season where they were playing consecutive games at a high level to get back in the picture. Another year with no playoffs for Toronto fans.
Sharks-10-Have been in the top two almost all year in the West and aren't going anywhere now. The top Western seed is still up for grabs and likely will be until the last week of the season. Whether one or two, the Sharks are in.
Blackhawks-10-Like San Jose, have been in the top two for most of the year. Have a chance to still win the West, but aren't going to miss the playoffs.
Canucks-10-An NHL record long 14 game road trip couldn't derail the Canucks as they went 8-5-1 and staked their claim to the top team in the Northwest division. Aren't likely to falter down the stretch and let Colorado jump ahead of them.
Coyotes-10-Has a team's offseason ever made a club look more likely to fail than what last summer did to the Coyotes? And has any team ever not only not failed, but performed so well under such negative circumstances? Surprise team of the year and a team to be dealt with come playoff time.
Avalanche-8-One of the hottest teams out of the gate at the beginning of the year. Cooled off around the middle of the season, but had such a strong start that they never fell out of the top eight and won't do so now. Have an outside chance to win their division, but right now are likely to finish between fourth and sixth and in the conference.
Kings-8-Another team with a surprising amount of success this season, LA has ridden Quick in net to a great record and will have the opportunity to make some noise in the playoffs.
Predators-6-A team that every year seems to do more with less than any other franchise. Were in this same spot last year before falling apart over the last few weeks and missing the playoffs. With two hungry teams behind that have more talent, wouldn't be surprised if this happens again.
Red Wings-7-Finally healthy after a start to the season in which it seemed every game a different key player was getting injured for 2-4 months. With the bulk of their line up back in place, Detroit has strung together three wins and has more than a one game lead over ninth place for the first time all season.
Flames-6-A tough late loss to Detroit put a hurt on their playoff chances. The toughest remaining schedule of any team in the league doesn't help their case. Will need to win the majority of their remaining games and hope for bulk losses by Detroit and Nashville to have a chance.
Wild-4-Inconsistent play all season and that's why they're six points out and have little chance of getting in.
Blues-4-A slow and disappointing start put the Blues too far behind too early in the year. Will try to replicate miracle run that they had last season, but they won't pull it off this year.
Stars-3-Were one point out of the top eight at the Olympic break and are now seven points back after a few weeks of play. Mike Modano deserves credit for not allowing himself to be celebrity news traded to a better contender, but the rest of the team has let him down and they'll miss the playoffs for the second year in a row after being in the Conference Finals in 2008.
Ducks-3-Had about as terrible a start as St. Louis did and tried their best to overcome it but weren't able to. Crawled up into the top ten and were within a few points of being in playoff position but never reached that point and have since fallen back down in the standings.
Blue Jackets-2-A team with high hopes coming into this season after making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last year; Columbus may be one of the most disappointing teams this year. Got off to a slow start and never recovered and Steve Mason hasn't played the same way this year as he did last season. A big step back for a team that had such high hopes.
Oilers-1-No team seems to find more ways to lose than the Oilers do. It doesn't matter what level of talent their players have or what expertise their coaches have, this team just loses. Have been terrible since going to the Finals in 2006 and continued that trend this year. Fewest number of wins, fewest number of points and the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention this season. A measurement of how bad they've been this year: Even if they were to win their final twelve games, they'd still finish no higher than 13th in the West.
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