Sunday, February 24, 2008

Some other things to think about...

Washington trails Carolina by five points with 19 games, two of them against the Hurricanes and with two games in hand. Seeing how they are sitting in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, we still think winning the Southeast Division is the path of least resistance to the playoffs. But the plot, as they say...thickens:

- Philadelphia, which currently resides in ninth place and is a team the Caps must jump to reach the eighth spot, has lost center Mike Richards for at least three weeks with a torn hamstring suffered in last night's 2-1 overtime loss to Florida. The Flyers are 0-8-2 in their last ten games.

- Buffalo, which currently sits in eighth place, is still deciding what to do about defenseman Brian Campbell. He is an unrestricted free agent at year's end, and he will command a hefty raise above the $1.75 million he's earning this year. Buffalo lost Daniel Briere and Chris Drury to free agency last summer...will they risk doing the same with Campbell if they cannot re-sign him by Tuesday? If they move him, what does that do to the Sabres' tenuous hold on eighth place?

- Atlanta, which has lost three in a row and is falling out of contention, is reported to be resigned to losing Marian Hossa. Is this one competitor the Caps can check off the list?

- The Islanders -- sitting in tenth place -- have lost center Mike Sillinger for the rest of the season to hip surgery, and there are rumors that Mike Comrie and/or Miroslav Satan could be traded. Think that's a formula conducive to a successful stretch run?

- Florida, which is in 12th place -- one point behind Washington -- is 3-5-2 in its last ten games, including a 5-0 loss to the Rangers this evening. And they're still the subject of speculation with respect to the fate of Olli Jokinen.

What works against the Capitals is that two teams in the bottom half of the playoff draw -- the Rangers and Boston, in sixth and seventh place, respectively -- are in the midst of pretty good fortune of late. Boston is 14-7-2 since New Year's Eve, and the Rangers are 10-3-2 in their last 15 games (including the 5-0 shutout of Florida tonight).

But that's sixth and seventh place, and it only takes getting into eighth to make the playoffs. It's an uphill climb, and the Caps are struggling. But a lot of teams are in that boat...the season isn't over. And there is more than one way to get a ticket to the dance.

Just some other things to think about in the days ahead.


Anonymous said...

It is a little reassuring to know that by this time next Sunday the Capitals could have the SE division lead by 1 point with 2 games at hand. Probable? No, but I would say that it is likely for us to be within 1-2 of Carolina.
This week the Caps play: Minnesota (which has lost 3 straight), NJ (which we greatly outplayed, minus Brodeur) and Toronto (the third worst team in the NHL). The Hurricanes play: NJ (one of the hottest teams of late), the Rangers (6-2-2 in last 10) and Tampa Bay (the only game the Hurricanes should be expected to win).
I would say that the Caps should feasibly be able to get at least 2-3 points out of the possible 4 against Minn. and NJ and win the Toronto game. Carolina would be expected to get 2 of their possible 6.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Atlanta was ever a serious threat - they have far too many holes. But I've been wrong before and it'd be nice to cross them off the list for good.