Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 04/02/11 at 11:53 PM ET
After a great week for the Hurricanes, they’ve climbed out of a hole and are in a position to climb as high as seventh place on Sunday afternoon. With four games to play, including the huge matchup with the Sabres on Sunday afternoon, there’s just two points separating seventh from ninth. Depending on the outcome of that game and the outcome of the game between the Rangers and Flyers, Carolina might be pushed hard against the wall or they might be in seventh. Or somewhere in between.
There are a lot of different scenarios that could play out tomorrow. Some of them involve tiebreakers from which Carolina would benefit. While Carolina and Buffalo will each have three games remaining after Sunday, they’re both looking at that game as the most important game of the season.
There are about two dozen scenarios with the two games, and I was gonna outline how each of them would impact the standings. but after about five scenarios, my head was swimming. I’ll simplify it.
Worst case scenario is that the Rangers win on the road at Philadelphia and Buffalo wins in regulation in Raleigh. This would give the Sabres 90, the Rangers 89 and the Canes 86 with three games left for each team. Carolina’s hill to climb is pretty steep there.
Best case scenario is that the Rangers lose in regulation and Carolina wins in regulation. In that scenario, Carolina and Buffalo would be tied with 88 standings points, but Carolina wins the tiebreaker because of head-to-head play. The Rangers would be knocked into ninth place with 87 points.
Something in between would be if Carolina wins in regulation and the Rangers lose in overtime or shootout. This would create a three-team log jam at 88 points. In that scenario, Carolina is tied with Buffalo but both teams beat the Rangers on the ROW tiebreaker. Carolina takes the head-to-head tiebreaker against Buffalo, so it would be Carolina in seventh and Rangers in ninth.
There are dozens of others, and some of them put Carolina in eighth. Carolina’s focus, though, is only on their own game. Cam “Mr. 2000” Ward will be back between the pipes for the Canes and it looks like it’ll be Jhonas Enroth for the Sabres. Ryan Miller is dealing with a collarbone injury and didn’t travel with the team to Washington. He hasn’t been ruled out, but he hasn’t practiced in a couple of days either.
I said a couple of weeks ago that I thought the Sabres and Canes would find themselves in and the Rangers out. Last week, I did a bit of a reversal on that, but Carolina has surged and now it looks very attainable for them. So I’ve reversed again. Or something.
The Maple Leafs are still sort of in the conversation, but they’re in a position where they definitely have to win all three of their remaining games (vs WAS, @ NJD, vs MTL) and get a good deal of help.
After tomorrow, Carolina has three games. They host the Wings on Wednesday, then visit the Thrashers on Friday and close out the season at home against the Bolts on Saturday.
Buffalo will host the Bolts on Tuesday, host the Flyers on Friday, then close out the season in Columbus on Saturday.
After visiting the Flyers on Sunday, the Rangers will host the Bruins on Monday, then host the Thrashers on Thursday and close the season at home against the Devils on Saturday.
No matter what, this is going to be a very intense game.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.