Kukla's Korner

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Talking Bubble Teams In The East

Scott Burnside and Craig Custance predict who will win the Central Division and which team will miss the cut in the East.

Burnside: With the Jets losing yet again, this time to the Rangers, there’s been some separation at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff bracket. The Lightning won their fourth in a row but are still nine points out. Sorry, that’s too much given how porous they’ve been defensively and in goal.

So, in my mind, that leaves the Leafs, Florida, New Jersey and Ottawa to battle for the final three spots. I just think the Caps will gradually assert themselves and maintain the Southeast Division lead that they now own, even if it is on winning percentage at the break.

The Senators have lost three in a row as the offense has gone dry and they have played four more games than Florida and New Jersey and three more than the Leafs, so their five-point bulge in the standings is a bit misleading….

I still think the Leafs finish outside the bubble and the top eight remain as they are now. Anyone else you see making a run in the east post-All Star?

Custance: I disagree. I think Toronto gets in. I like what I saw from the Leafs in beating an Islanders team that was playing pretty well going into those two games. A fluky Islanders goal sent that game into overtime, and I loved Toronto’s response as did their general manager…..

more at ESPN…

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink



I agree in that I don’t expect Tampa Bay to make the climb back into contention having the worst goals against average in the league.  I think Washington will take over Florida in the Southeast and would expect the Panthers to fall out of the playoff race, being ranked 14th in goals against won’t be enough to make up for their lack of scoring and they allow a lot of shots as well.

Toronto has the offense to make the playoffs, but they need to improve on their league worst penalty kill and their 25th ranked goals against average.

Ottawa’s 8th best goals per game has to make up a lot for their 27th goals against and 29th shots against average.

As weird is it sounds to say, New Jersey will have to find an answer in net…The Devils are 3rd in shots against but are 19th in goals against.

It’ll be interesting to see if Montreal can find their way back into the hunt, I think they’re a better team than they’ve shown to be in the standings.  They don’t give up many shots and they have a great penalty kill, but they need their league worst powerplay to find a way to score.

Posted by Mike from NHL Ranks on 01/25/12 at 04:46 PM ET


Great points, Mike, and I generally agree.

Most of these teams have really substantial flaws or drawbacks.

- Florida I think has been a mirage (just about everybody there is having a career year so far, and they still win way fewer than half their games and give up more goals than they score).

- New Jersey is a mess in net (they’d be a lot better if they’d just ride Hedberg, but loyalty to Broduer blinds them) and their record is buoyed by a league-high 8 shootout wins. They’re a mirage, too.

- Toronto and Ottawa are thoroughly mediocre. They’ve also benefited from unexpectedly good offenses that have made up for expectedly shoddy defenses. Not sure if either team can continue to score at the same rate over the last third, and pretty sure both will continue to struggle in their own end.

- Goal differential suggests Montreal ought to be in this race, but they’re 1-7 in coin flips. I think they’re a better team than Florida or New Jersey, but heir bad luck in shootouts thus far probably means they’re too far out of it.

It’s kind of a battle to see who can suck the least over the rest of the schedule. No matter what, one or two playoff spots are going to go to teams that probably don’t really deserve it.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/25/12 at 05:30 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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