Tampa Bay's win on Friday in Montreal complicates the arithmetic a bit. Or perhaps better said, it doesn't make the math any simpler.
If the Isles record ROWs on Saturday and Sunday then Tampa's win has no effect on the Isles.
However, it does present an interesting situation, say if their game Saturday night heads to overtime. If the Isles beat New Jersey in a shootout they would still be behind Tampa, while an overtime win would put the Isles ahead. Would Dougie pull Jaroslav Halak in that situation, knowing that an empty net goal would end the playoff chase? Would he take his chances in the shootout, knowing that even with a win he would have to get help from both Columbus (in Toronto) and Buffalo (in Tampa Bay) on Sunday?
Let's put it this way. Tampa Bay's win did not reduce the pressure on the Isles... at all.
The Playoff Chase
The Isles need to finish ahead of both Toronto and Tampa Bay to make the playoffs.
Toronto 93 points, 38 ROW in 80 games
Tampa Bay 92 points, 37 ROW in 81 games
ISLES 90 points, 37 ROW in 80 games
The Isles will make the playoffs IF:
· The Isles win their last 2 (both ROWs) and Leafs go no better than 0-1-1 in their last 2
· The Isles win their last 2 (one ROW and one SO), the Leafs lose their last 2 (both in regulation), and the Lightning don't beat Buffalo in regulation/overtime.
(The Isles would be eliminated with 2 shootout wins if Tampa also wins)
There is still a possibility of a 3-way tie between the Isles/Leafs/Lightning (at 94/38).
However, the three-way tie does not help the Isles, who lost the season series (for playoff purposes) to both Tampa Bay (4 points to 0) and Toronto (3 points to 2). The tiebreaker for playoff purposes is as follows: "If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any "odd" games, shall be used to determine the standing."
Saturday: Isles @ Devils (6:00), Pittsburgh @ Toronto (7:00)
Sunday: Ottawa @ Isles (5:00), Buffalo @ Tampa Bay (5:00), Columbus @ Toronto (6:00)
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