Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/16/09 at 11:13 PM ET
I’ve just taken a couple of days away from the blog, as I am forced to do twice a year when work puts everything else on hold for an entire weekend. Now, back to the hockey business.
Carolina has eleven games remaining and they are clinging to the eighth and final playoff spot. Both Florida and Buffalo, who are chasing, have games in hand and could easily catch the Canes. There is a possibility that the Rangers or even Montréal could collapse down the stretch and fall out of the race. However, Carolina should keep their focus on taking care of their own business.
I figure they’ll need 95 points to guarantee a spot in the playoffs, which means they’ll have to earn 16 out of 22 points down the stretch. 7-2-2. 8-3-0. 6-1-4. Whatever. They may be able to do it with 93, but either way, it’s going to be tough. They’re going to have to win, and it isn’t going to be easy. Of their 11 remaining games, three are against the Devils, and two of those are in the swamp. They will have home games against playoff teams Washington, Rangers and the smokin’ hot Penguins. Sure, they have two home games against the lowly Islanders, but that doesn’t do much to soften the blow of having to play three against the Devils.
Carolina is, without a doubt, going to have to “steal” some of their final games and they won’t be able to give any away.
The harsh reality of it is that I don’t think they’ll be able to get to 95 points. I’m not giving up by any means, but it’s just not looking that good.
However….. The Rangers have an extremely difficult final stretch. Their last seven games are all against teams currently in the playoffs, including a home-and-home with the Flyers to close the season. I only see them getting a maximum of 12 points in their final 12 games. That could help the Canes.
Montréal’s schedule is pretty easy down the stretch, and they should be able to get at least 15 points in their final 13 games. No help there.
Forget about Pittsburgh. It looks like they won’t lose a regulation game until next season. They’re in for sure.
The Panthers, by my count should get 12 points in their last 13 games, so that also might help the Canes cause.
Buffalo, by my estimation, should get 16 points in their last 13.
These estimations make 92 points the cut, with a bundle of teams tied there. This means that Carolina will need 13 to enter that scenario. That’s not ideal, so the obvious solution is to steal a game or two and make it less tight.
Carolina last played on Saturday, ending a brutal road trip during which they lost all three games but managed to get two standings points. They won’t play again until Wednesday, which just might be Martin Brodeur’s night.
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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.