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Miller takes a deep look at the Eastern Conference playoff contenders

With the regular season rapidly winding down, only three Eastern Conference teams can say with much certainty that they will make the playoffs - Pittsburgh, Montreal and Boston.  Conversely, only three teams have all but mathematically eliminated themselves from playoff contention - Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida.

This week (in two parts - the second part is out later today), we'll take a closer look at which of the remaining nine Eastern Conference teams have a real shot at punching one of the five available tickets to the post-season dance or are just pretenders this year. Below is a table of the Eastern Conference standings. I've added games remaining because I hate to do math - simple subtraction drives me to distraction.

 

 

 

Team

GP

GR

Pts

L10

Record vs Remain

GF

GA

1

Pittsburgh

39

9

58

8-2-0

-

-

-

2

Montreal

38

10

55

6-3-1

-

-

-

3

Washington

39

9

42

8-1-1

9-8-0

49

45

4

Boston

38

10

54

6-3-1

-

-

-

5

Toronto

39

9

48

7-1-2

14-5-0

63

47

6

Ottawa

38

10

44

5-5-0

5-9-4

36

50

7

NY Rangers

39

9

42

4-4-2

9-5-1

42

34

8

NY Islanders

39

9

42

6-3-1

7-7-3

52

59

9

New Jersey

39

9

40

2-4-4

8-5-5

41

40

10

Winnipeg

40

8

40

3-7-0

9-10-0

45

65

11

Buffalo

39

9

38

6-2-2

10-8-1

49

48

12

Philadelphia

38

10

37

5-3-2

9-9-1

49

55

13

Carolina

38

10

34

1-9-0

-

-

-

14

Tampa Bay

38

10

34

4-5-1

-

-

-

15

Florida

39

9

32

6-4-0

-

-

-



Washington Capitals

Talk about a team on fire; the Caps are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They will win their division going away, but that isn't saying much as it is a sorry excuse for a division. Washington is seventh in goals per game, but 20th in goals-against. They are on quite a run and should carry that momentum into the playoffs. They are clicking on all cylinders.

 

vs

MTL

CAR

TB

TOR

OTT

WPG

BOS

Totals

GR

2

1

1

1

2

1

1

9

Record

0-1-0

3-1-0

2-1-0

0-2-0

0-1-0

3-1-0

1-1-0

9-8-0

GF

1

11

11

4

2

15

5

49

GA

4

9

11

6

3

5

7

45

 

The NHL's First Star of the Week, Alex Ovechkin has nine goals and 17 points in 13 games against Carolina, Tampa Bay, Winnipeg and Toronto, but only one lonely point (an assist) in four games against Montreal, Ottawa and Boston. To say that he's hot would be an understatement. Over his last dozen games, Ovechkin has 15 goals and 21 points and has been held off the scoresheet only once during that stretch.

Nicklas Backstrom is set for a fantastic finish. Not only does he own a six game 11 point streak, but in 17 games against his upcoming opponents, he has 21 points.

Troy Brouwer has four goals in four games against the Jets, but only four points in 12 games against the remaining teams left to play this season.

John Carlson has nine points in 11 games versus Carolina, Tampa Bay and Winnipeg.

While Mike Green has seven points in his last six games, the only team he has a history of scoring against this season is Carolina.  Still, he's worth a gamble to continue putting up points.

Marcus Johansson has seven points in his last five games. He likes playing against Carolina, Toronto, Winnipeg and Boston as he has eight points in nine matches this season.

Mike Ribeiro has cooled off a little of late. He has three points in his last six games, but he does have nine points in his last dozen contests. In 13 combined games against Carolina, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Winnipeg, Ribeiro has 13 points.

If Martin Erat does come back from his lower-body injury, he might be one to watch. Last year, against Carolina, Ottawa and Toronto, he recorded six points in four games.

 

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Another clutch win last night against the Rangers and with every point being so valuable, it puts Toronto in the drivers seat. They are solidly in fifth place, four points up on sixth. The Leafs have two scoring lines, but having Lupul back would be huge. The defence has been a surprise from the beginning of the season. James Reimer will be good enough to break their long playoff drought. One thing is for sure, they are a fun team to watch.

 

vs

NYR

MTL

NJ

WSH

NYI

OTT

TB

FLA

Totals

GR

1

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

9

Record

1-1-0

2-1-0

2-0-0

2-0-0

1-1-0

3-1-0

1-1-0

2-0-0

14-5-0

GF

6

10

6

6

9

14

6

6

63

GA

8

6

3

4

11

7

6

2

47

 

Tyler Bozak has 11 points in his last dozen games. In 19 games against the teams remaining on the schedule, he has 12 points.

What more can you say about Nazem Kadri's breakout season? He has 26 points in his last 21 games, so he's clearly not fading at this point of the year. On the season, he has 40 points in 39 games. He's set up for a great finish with 21 points in 18 games against the remaining clubs on the schedule.

Cody Franson has points in three straight games and 22 points in 36 games on the season. Against the Canadiens, Devils, Caps, Isles and Panthers, Franson has a combined eight points in 11 games.

Carl Gunnarsson may only have 13 points in 31 games this year, but six of them have come in only four games against Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders.

In the months of March and April, Phil Kessel has 22 points in 17 games. Must be a good feeling to not have to provide the offense all by yourself. He has 18 points in 18 games against the teams left on the slate.

Nikolai Kulemin has eight points in his last 11 games. He has seven points in nine games against the Rangers, Caps, Sens and Lightning.

John-Michael Liles only has 10 points in 25 games this season, but he has four points in his last six games. In seven games against the Rangers, Canadiens, Islanders and Senators, Liles has seven points.

Should Joffrey Lupul get back in the line-up soon, it will be interesting to see if he can pick up where he left off. In the seven games since he came back from injury, before sitting out with another injury, Lupul had 14 points with at least a point in each match. He has eight points in three games against Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Florida this season.

With 24 points in 39 games, Dion Phaneuf is scoring at a 50 point pace, something he hasn't done since 2007-08 (60 points). In nine games against Montreal, Ottawa and Florida, Phaneuf has eight points.

James van Riemsdyk has five points in his last five games and 27 points in 39 games on the year. He should have a fine finish as he has 16 points in 19 games against the teams left on the schedule.

 

Get the latest Toronto line combinations here.

 

Ottawa Senators

So Ottawa has lost four in a row and still don't have their top forward and top defenseman in the line-up. They did get Craig Anderson back and made a trade for some offensive help in Cory Conacher. Say what you will, but this band of overachievers deserves to be in the playoffs this season. I think somehow, they put together enough wins to make it reality. How far can Cinderella go?

 

vs

TB

PHI

NJ

BOS

CAR

WSH

TOR

PIT

Totals

GR

1

2

1

1

1

2

1

1

10

Record

1-1-0

0-1-0

2-0-0

0-2-2

0-1-1

1-0-0

1-3-0

0-1-1

5-9-4

GF

9

1

5

6

2

3

7

3

36

GA

9

2

3

10

4

2

14

6

50

 

Nine of Colin Greening's 17 points have come in 17 games against the teams he will face down the stretch. He seems to thrive playing against Toronto with four points in three contests.

Yes, Daniel Alfredsson is getting old and has faded of late with no points over his last six matches. He has eight points in as many games against the Lightning, Devils, Canes, Caps and Pens. Four of those eight came in two games against Tampa Bay.

While Cory Conacher does have 25 points in 37 games, how many were due to playing with the big dogs in Tampa? He has nine points in 10 games against New Jersey, Toronto, Carolina and Washington, all while a member of the Bolts. In his two games with Ottawa, he has one point. Conacher seems like a good fit in Ottawa, but time will tell if he can help propel the Sens to what early in the year seemed like an improbable playoff position.

Erik Condra has lit up Toronto for four points in four games.

Like Alfredsson, Sergei Gonchar is getting a little long in the tooth and is currently pointless in six games. In his previous 10 games however, he scorched the league for 15 points. Against the teams he will play the remainder of the way, he has nine points in 18 contests.

Jakob Silfverberg has been on a roll of late with three points in the last three matches and nine points in the last 10 games. He has four points in six contests against Tampa Bay, New Jersey and Carolina.

Kyle Turris has eight points in seven games against the Lightning, Devils, Caps and Canes. He is on a five game scoreless streak, but in his previous eight contests, he recorded nine points.

Mika Zibanejad is on a nice tear with nine points in his last eight games. He has eight points in 15 games against the competition he is about to face.

 

New York Rangers

The Rangers currently sit tied in points (42) with the cross-town Islanders. With the big names on that roster, they darn well better make the playoffs. Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Ryane Clowe, Dan Giradi, Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto and of course Henrik Lundqvist all face immense pressure. When all is said and done, this group will end up with a post-season ticket. Look at that schedule to end the regular season:  Fla twice, Car, NYI, Buf, Tor, Phi and NJ twice, talk about holding your fate in your own hands.

 

vs

TOR

NYI

PHI

FLA

BUF

NJ

CAR

Totals

GR

1

1

1

2

1

2

1

9

Record

1-1-0

1-1-1

3-1-0

0-1-0

1-1-0

1-1-0

2-0-0

9-5-1

GF

8

9

12

1

3

4

5

42

GA

6

6

7

3

5

5

2

34

 

Ryan Callahan has eight points in nine games against the Canes, Devils, Sabres and Flyers. He has 20 points in 36 games, but his 131 hits place him in the top ten in the NHL in that category.

Despite his numbers looking decent with the Rangers, four points in four games, Derick Brassard played only10:42 minutes last night against Toronto. He has 22 points in 38 games on the season, but unless there is an injury or two amongst the Rangers forwards, don't look for Brassard to produce much in the way of points down the stretch.

Interestingly enough, Ryane Clowe has the same four points in four games with the Blueshirts, but he is getting significant ice time. He played 21:38 minutes in last night's game versus the Maple Leafs.

Michael Del Zotto has 11 points in 15 games against the teams remaining on the schedule.

After his two goals last night, Rick Nash now has 35 points in 35 games. Against the teams left to play against, he has 18 points in 16 games.

No doubt Brad Richards has had a poor season for the Rangers. He has 23 points in 37 games. A good finishing kick to propel the team to the playoffs may help make amends. Richards has eight points in 14 games against the teams he will play down the stretch.

After posting a rookie campaign of 45 points and following that up with a 51 point effort last season, Derek Stepan is having what can only be considered a breakout year. He is scoring at a 67 point pace with 33 points in 39 games. Stepan should have a nice final kick as he has 17 points in 16 games against his upcoming opponents.

 

New Jersey Devils

The Devils currently sit two points out of a playoff spot, but are on a brutal seven game losing streak. Their best player, Ilya Kovalchuk is out with injury. So all is lost, right? Why do I get the feeling that this team just does what it has to in order to win. Maybe it's something with the history of being in the playoffs and having success. Whatever it is, you should never count this scrappy team out. Call me crazy, but I think they make it to the dance.

 

vs

BOS

OTT

TOR

PHI

FLA

NYR

MTL

PIT

Totals

GR

1

1

1

1

1

2

1

1

9

Record

1-1-0

0-0-2

0-2-0

3-0-1

1-0-1

1-1-0

0-1-1

2-1-0

8-5-5

GF

1

3

3

14

4

5

4

7

41

GA

2

5

6

7

4

4

5

7

40

 

If Ilya Kovalchuk comes back from his injured shoulder in time, he would greatly help an anemic offense. In the seven games since Kovalchuk went down, the team is 0-3-4 and has scored a meager 12 goals. This season, he has no points against Boston, Ottawa, Toronto and Florida (one game against each team), but has 12 points in 11 games against the rest of his opponents down the stretch.

Patrik Elias has 12 points in 10 games against the Bruins, Rangers, Canadiens and Flyers.

David Clarkson loves to play against the Habs, Flyers, Rangers and Pens. He has 11 points in as many games against those four teams this season.

Stephen Gionta has four points in six games versus Philadelphia and the New York Rangers.

Adam Henrique puts up points against the Pens and Flyers, recording five points in six matches this season. Overall, he is having a disappointing season, with only 14 points in 34 games, well off his 51 point rookie campaign.

Andrei Loktionov has shown that he can put some points on the board since coming over in a trade from the Kings. He has 11 points in 22 games and in six games against Ottawa, Philadelphia and Florida, Loktionov has four points.

Steve Sullivan hasn't played much against Eastern Conference teams this season. Last year, discounting Boston and Montreal, Sullivan recorded 15 points in 22 games against teams he is about to play against down the stretch.

Travis Zajac is sort of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde against the remaining teams. Against Philadelphia, Florida and New York Rangers, Zajac has six points in eight games, but against the other teams, he is scoreless in 11 matches this season.

Marek Zidlicky has points against all the remaining teams this season, except the Panthers, Rangers and Canadiens. He especially enjoys playing against Toronto and Philadelphia, due to his six points in six games this season.

 

Later today - Islanders, Sabres, Flyers and Jets…




Write comment
Comments (4)add comment

Kofax said:

Kofax
... I know the feeling. Make them all the time in the reports I put together. Everything just kind of melds together after a while. Very frustrating.
April 09, 2013
Votes: +0

Dobber said:

Dobber
... Fixed. Stupid copy/paste error. I spent so much time on this, formatting/fixing that to make such a bonehead mistake sucks
April 09, 2013
Votes: +0

Kofax said:

Kofax
... That and Toronto's is the same one used for Washington.
April 09, 2013
Votes: +0

Raja said:

Raja
... You have a problem with the stat sheets, Ottawa's is listed under both NYR and NJD as well.
April 09, 2013
Votes: +0
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