East playoffs begin to take shape
By Mitch Canzano
The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin April 15, and although they are just eight days away, no seeds are set in stone. If the playoffs were to begin tonight, the seeds would match up as follows:
- New York Rangers vs. 8. Detroit Red Wings
- Montreal Canadiens vs. 7. Pittsburgh Penguins
- Tampa Bay Lightning vs. 6. Boston Bruins
- New York Islanders vs. 5. Washington Capitals
Boston, Detroit, New York and Pittsburgh are all battling for the bottom three seeds, with the Ottawa Senators following close behind. The Islanders could drop to one of the bottom three seeds should they fall behind Pittsburgh and into third place in the Metropolitan division. Each team has three games left, however the Bruins own the first tiebreaker, ROW (regulation/overtime wins) over Detroit and Ottawa, who are competing for the 3rd spot in the Atlantic division.
Pittsburgh is trying to stay in the playoffs as well as trying to earn the third Metropolitan seed. However they have less ROW (38) than the Islanders (39), meaning, should they tie, the tie break for 3rd in the division would go to the Isles (barring any change in ROW in the final three games).
Should Ottawa drop two of its last three (in regulation), they would be eliminated from the playoffs. If the Islanders win or lose in overtime or a shootout, they clinch a spot. The Red Wings, and Penguins will both clinch with two wins in their last three games.
The Bruins play three away games against Washington, Florida, and Tampa Bay. They undoubtedly have the hardest remaining schedule of the teams fighting for a playoff spot.
The Wings play one home game, and two away games, one in Carolina, the other in Montreal, and one at home against Carolina. Montreal is a tough challenge, but the Red Wings shouldn’t run into much trouble against the Canes.
The Senators also play one home, and two away games. They play away at New York (Rangers) and Philadelphia, and at home against Pittsburgh. Ottawa has just about as tough a schedule one can get with three remaining games, just like the B’s.
Pittsburgh plays one home and two away. They host the Islanders and play away at Buffalo and Ottawa. Pittsburgh has an easy matchup vs Buffalo, but playing Ottawa will be tough as they are playing desperate hockey.
The Islanders play three more games, at Philadelphia, at Pittsburgh, and they host Columbus. Columbus has been playing spoiler recently, as has Philadelphia (4-1 over Pittsburgh on Sunday). Pittsburgh is fighting to stay in contention so that should be a great game.
The playoff picture in the East figures to make a thrilling week of hockey, and an excellent finish to another superb regular season of hockey. Let the greatest playoffs in sports begin.
Peter Santo also contributed to this report