by Mike Chen on 01/13/09 at 02:46 PM ET
With all but one team at the halfway point of the season (Ottawa’s played 40 games, but they’re out of the picture anyways), we’ve got a little bit of separation now between the haves and have-nots. The problem is that there’s still a bunch of teams in limbo, and the trick to getting that magical 8th spot isn’t winning as much it is a combination of your own team winning and every other team losing.
Consider the wacky Western Conference, where 8th-place Colorado leads 14th-place Los Angeles by a mere five points. In the east, things are a little more settled, where four teams (Buffalo, Carolina, Florida, and Pittsburgh) are battling it out for the last two spots.
Here’s the question, though. Sure, miracle runs to the Cup final are possible (see: Edmonton, 2006) for teams that just squeak into the post-season…but how often does that happen? As fans, we want hope, and what gives more hope than a new franchise player?
So if your team is in that bubble where they are just barely on the outside looking in, what would you prefer? Do you want a complete tank for the rest of the season to ensure the John Tavares pick (good luck being worse than the Islanders) or do you want to scratch and claw for an 8th-place spot because, you know, anything can happen?
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