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The Skinny on The Openers

"The Skinny" … on the Openers By Eric Hornick The NHL released the schedule for the 2016-17 season on Tuesday.  It'...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Skinny on the Playoff Chase

(Revised to reflect schedule changes due to Boston incident)

The Isles won, but so did Ottawa, the Rangers and Buffalo.  All four teams gained ground on the Leafs and on the Caps (who lost to Ottawa, and fell behind the Isles in the overall standings in the process).

The Standings:
  • 3 Washington (SE Leader) 44 games 24-18-2 50 points (21 ROW) Next game: Saturday at Montreal
  • 5. Toronto 44 games 24-15-5 53 points (24 ROW) Next game: Saturday at Ottawa
  • 6 Ottawa 43 games 23-14-6 52 points (19 ROW) Next game: Saturday vs. Toronto
  • 7 NY Islanders 44 games 23-16-5 51 points (20 ROW) Next game: Saturday at Winnipeg
  • 8 NY Rangers 43 games 22-17-4 48 points (18 ROW) Next game: Friday at Buffalo
  • 9 Winnipeg 44 games 23-19-2 48 points (21 ROW) Next game: Saturday vs. Islanders
  • 10 Buffalo 44 games 18-19-6 44 points (13 ROW) Next game: Friday vs. Rangers
  • 11 New Jersey 43 games 16-17-10 42 points (14 ROW) Next game: Saturday vs. Florida
    What's a ROW?
    Regulation or Overtime Wins. Wins earned in a shootout do not count towards the first tiebreaker.

    What are the tie-breakers?
    • Fewest games played (that's why the Rangers are 8th and Winnipeg 9th)
    • Most ROW
    • Head-to-Head record
    • Goal differential for the entire season
    Isn't it Magic?
    The Islanders' magic number (points earned by the Islanders or lost by the team that is not in a playoff position but has the highest possible points) for clinching a playoff spot is 6. Of the teams currently not in a playoff spot, Winnipeg can reach the highest total (56 points). Since the Jets have 21 ROW and the Isles 20, the Isles will likely need to beat Winnipeg in points to finish ahead of the Jets.

    Why Does the Southeast Leader Matter?
    The Isles now have 51 points,  one more than Washington and three more than Winnipeg.  Both Washington and Winnipeg would need to finish ahead of the Isles for the Isles to miss the playoffs (assuming the Isles earn at least one point in final 4, which will guarantee they finish ahead of both Buffalo and New Jersey).

    Clinch #s:
    The Isles will qualify for the playoffs if they can finish ahead of 7 other teams.  Here are the maximum point totals, and respective Clinch #s for the teams currently not in a playoff spot that could still catch the Isles.
    • Winnipeg 48 points in 44 games.  Maximum points: 56.  Clinch #: 6
    • Buffalo 44 points in 44 games. Maximum points: 52.  Clinch #:1*
    • New Jersey 42 points in 43 games. Maximum points: 52.  Clinch # 1*
    *If Buffalo and New Jersey win out they could finish with 17 and 19 ROWs but Isles already have 20 to clinch tie-break.

    Isles have clinched at least 11th place in East as they are guaranteed to finish ahead of Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Carolina and Florida.

    Upcoming Games:

    Friday, 4/19:
    • Rangers at Buffalo -- A much bigger game than it appears a few weeks ago as Buffalo, in 14th place on April 4th, has climbed to 10th.  Buffalo can move within two points of the Rangers and Jets with a win, while the Rangers can move within one points of the Isles.  However, a Sabres regulation loss eliminates them entirely.
    Saturday, 4/20:
    Pittsburgh at Boston -- Bruins fell two points behind Montreal, who beat Tampa on Thursday.  However, Boston has six games left and Montreal only 4.  The Penguins can clinch the top seed in the East with a win.  (Tentatively scheduled for 12:30 ET)
    Washington at Montreal 
    Toronto at Ottawa
    Islanders at Winnipeg
    Florida at New Jersey
    Philadelphia at Carolina

    Sunday, 4/21:
    Florida at Boston
    New Jersey at Rangers
    Carolina at Tampa Bay

    Monday, 4/22:
    Pittsburgh at Ottawa
    Winnipeg at Buffalo 
      
    Tuesday, 4/23:
    Buffalo at Pittsburgh (rescheduled from 4/20)
    Boston at Philadelphia 
    Winnipeg at Washington
    Montreal at New Jersey
    Islanders at Carolina
    Rangers at Florida

    Wednesday, 4/24:
    Toronto at Tampa Bay 
     
    There are 10 days remaining in the NHL season. The season now ends on Sunday, April 28 with a game between Ottawa and Boston. 10 other Eastern Conference teams will end their season on April 27th. The Islanders face the Sabres in their final game on Friday, April 26 while the Jets play their final game on April 25th.
    Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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