Kukla's Korner

‘Canes Still Alive (Here’s How They Get In) Plus, Bolts Players in Cut for a Cure & JJ’s “Beard-Off”

Now, it gets fun.

The hockey world thanks you, Carolina Hurricanes, for being one of the scrappiest damn teams in this league. Had you listened to the odds at any point during your playoff chase, you’d have bowed out, oh, eleven times or so by now.

With almost zero wiggle room, and in a home stretch that has them finishing their season on Friday and Saturday with their seventh set (seventh!) of back-to-back games since March 3rd, Carolina has managed a 9-5-2 record in that span to stay afloat in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

After last night’s gutty 3-0 shutout of the visiting Detroit Red Wings (you know, those perennial Western Conference doormats?), the ‘Canes live to fight another day or, at least two, to get all technical about it.

But until they hit Atlanta to tackle the Thrashers on Friday, nothing at all is in their hands and, even then, their fate is not totally their own to decide.

With two games left to play for all parties involved, Carolina trails the eighth place New York Rangers by two points and the seventh place Buffalo Sabres by three. Theoretically, they could still catch either team and qualify for postseason play.

But if the Sabres win either of their final two games in regulation or in overtime, the Hurricanes cannot catch Buffalo.

And if the Rangers earn a combined total of three points in their final two, in any fashion, the Hurricanes cannot catch them either.

Here’s where the fun part starts.

If the Buffalo Sabres manage only one more point, losing one of their last two games while reaching overtime (but still not winning) the other, they will finish with a 41-30-11 record for 93 points, including 36 regulation or overtime wins.

If Carolina wins out (without having to do so in a shootout in either of their remaining games), they too will finish with a 41-30-11 record for 93 points, including 36 regulation or overtime wins.

Buffalo and Carolina had identical records against each other in their season series (each going 2-1-1 against the other – thank you, once again, loser point) so that tiebreaker does nothing and, in this scenario, Buffalo would likely earn the playoff berth, thanks to goal differential. Currently, the Sabres are +14 in that department to the Hurricanes’ -4. That ten-goal gap is nearly impossible to make up in such a short time frame [ed. note: Math sucks. That’s an 18-goal gap. Even worse.] but, if it comes down to it, wouldn’t that be fun as well? Theoretically, we could see Carolina winning their regular season finale and still having to pull their goaltender in an effort to score more goals to make up the difference. Ridiculous, yes, but fun nonetheless (I think).

Now then, if the Rangers lose one of their final two in regulation (and win the other without the need for a shootout), they would finish at 44-33-5, good for 93 points, including 35 regulation or overtime wins.

In that case, all the Hurricanes have to do is win both of their remaining games (and at least one in regulation) to qualify for the playoffs, having the tiebreaker in this scenario over New York, thanks to a 2-0-2 record against the Rangers in their season series. (The six points earned for Carolina against New York’s four in turn gives them the nod.)

Confused? Again, thank the loser point but still… Enjoy the last few games here.

If you want to keep it more simple, forget about overtimes and shootouts and regulation/overtime wins and goal differential and season series records and how many times Stormy, Sabretooth (or Sean Avery) scored in the mascot game during All-Star weekend. Because we may not end up needing tiebreakers after all.

Remember, the ‘Canes can’t max out any higher than 93 points, meaning a Buffalo win of any sort gets them into the dance while any combination of three points for New York does the same for them. But, if the Rangers lose outright in Atlanta tonight and/or the Sabres do so at home to Philadelphia on Friday, the door is open.

And, ‘Canes Country, if New York wins tonight, don’t jump… There’s still a chance.

Any way you look at the way things might finish up here, one more time, you have to give it up for Carolina’s scrappy crew.

And, when I said early on today that the hockey world thanks them, of course I meant all but those who might end up facing this gutsy bunch in the first round of the playoffs.

That team would have quite the tussle on their hands…

Remaining Schedules

:
Carolina: Friday @ Atlanta, Saturday vs. Tampa Bay
Buffalo: Friday vs. Philadelphia, Saturday @ Columbus
NYRangers: Tonight vs. Atlanta, Saturday vs. New Jersey

***

The Tampa Bay Lightning have invited fans to participate in today’s “Cut for a Cure” charity auction, during which Vincent Lecavalier, Mike Smith, Martin St. Louis, Ryan Malone, Victor Hedman, Teddy Purcell and Nate Thompson will be shaving their heads to raise money for pediatric cancer treatment and research.

The event begins at 5:30 PM at the Pepin Hospitality Centre and fans can visit The Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s “Cut for a Cure” site to place a general donation or to bid on a chance to shave a player’s head themselves.

(Personally, I’d like to see one of the boys step up and go “Mr. Clean”-bald for a little extra cash for the kids in need but I sent that feeler out this morning and I don’t think anyone’s biting…)

But you can’t kid at all about how great an event this is and what a worthwhile cause this is that the Lightning organization, its players and the community are are all supporting.

Here are the links to the individual participant pages, where you can pledge your support:

Vinny Lecavalier
Marty St. Louis
Ryan Malone
Victor Hedman
Teddy Purcell
Mike Smith
Nate Thompson

***

In a not-quite-as-noble endeavor, as I announced yesterday, I am encouraging one and all to join me in the first annual JJ’s Stanley Cup Playoff “Beard-Off”.

Visit yesterday’s post for complete details but, essentially, you’ll start with a fresh shave on Sunday night (after the last regular season game has finished) or some time Monday and flip me a starter pic via Twitter (no later than 11:59 PM, Eastern, please) along with the team you’re supporting in their chase for the Cup. That will serve as your official notice of entry.

Thereafter, I’ll hit up each participant at some point during each week of the playoffs to send an updated photo and I’ll post them all here and there to monitor our progress. (Of course, I’ll be participating myself… So bring your “A” game!!!)

When teams are eliminated, I’ll be hard after the applicable participants to shave off their face gruff and send in a defeat picture, complete with sad/angry/beaten expression, naturally.

It’s all in good fun, for the most part, but the participant with the most glorious beard in the end has been promised a fabulous gift in recognition of their achievement.

Further reminders forthcoming but remember, no cheating. We need to start clean together and we’ll do that with the starter pic submissions on Sunday night and throughout Monday.

Though my wife thinks otherwise, this should be a blast.

JJ
jj@kuklaskorner.com
JJ on Twitter

Filed in: Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, | Beasts of the Southeast | Permalink
 

Comments

Avatar

...the Sabres are +14 in that department to the Hurricanes’ -4. That ten-goal gap is nearly impossible to make up…

Nitpicking perhaps, but that’s actually an 18-goal difference.

Anyway, solid rundown of all the possibilities & implications.

Posted by Bryan from new york on 04/07/11 at 12:13 PM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

Bryan - WHOOPS!!!!

Fixed - and thank you!

JJ

Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 04/07/11 at 12:21 PM ET

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