|Looking Ahead - Week 21||Tweet|
|Written by Dave Poleck|
|Friday, 25 February 2011 01:35|
A tough decision can be made easier with these charts showing you the best five and worst five schedules for upcoming seven-day periods. Some of you used them last year but for the benefit of new readers here is a refresher. The number next to the team indicates the 'multiplier' to use on a player's point-per-game pace to give you an idea how many points to expect for that week.
With around 20 games left for each team, this is the home stretch, folks.
The logjam in the Western is going to be fascinating to watch unfold this year. In the Central, all five teams will see more action on the road then at home over the next three weeks. The Wings shouldn’t have a problem regaining the Division crown, but the other four teams are going to have to improve their play away from home if they want to stay afloat.
In just over two weeks, the Dallas Stars have gone from Pacific Division leader all the way to the bottom and out of a playoff spot and were pushed to the brink of selling mode after a 1-0 loss to the Devils earlier this week. With the Kings looking like a major buyer at the deadline, Anaheim play nine of their next 11 at home, and San Jose and Phoenix playing hockey like it’s 2009-10, things don’t look too good for the Stars right now.
The Canucks are so farahead in the Northwest that I think they would come away with the crown if they had half of their top six on the IR like so much of their defensive group is. The real interesting story in this division down the stretch will be to see how the Wild and Flames handle the pressure of the major ramifications involved with every single game. While the Wild have a break from the insanity with a mini three game Eastern trip next week, all of the Flames remaining games are against Western teams. Of their 16 games between now and the end of March, 13 are against teams not named Vancouver, Detroit, Colorado or Edmonton. Talk about pressure.
The East is a different story and much less exciting. Barring a complete collapse by the Rangers or Habs, seven of the eight teams are decided, it’s just a matter of what seed they end up in.
The battle between Tampa and Washington will likely go down to the final week of the season. After over a month at home, the Lightning has three tough road games coming up against New Jersey, the Rangers and Boston. Washington has a much nicer schedule on paper, a home and home with Long Island, followed by games against St. Louis, Florida and Edmonton. There is a head to head matchup between the two Southbeasts on March 7; should be a dandy.
The other interesting battle, albeit between somewhat uninteresting teams, is for the final playoff spots in the Conference. The teams that have had the power in recent weeks (Carolina, Buffalo, Atlanta) have all been struggling mightily, and the teams that were thought to be longshots (Toronto and New Jersey) are playing their best hockey of the season.
The Sabres have an advantage due to having played less games than just about everybody in the league and have a five game road trip coming up. Thankfully, they have the best road records among non playoff teams.
The Devils can’t actually pull this off, can they? Looking at their upcoming schedule, maybe they can. Aside from two quick ones against the Lightning this week, they play Florida, Pittsburgh, Long Island, Ottawa, Atlanta and Ottawa again. With the Penguin struggling, the only threatening games look to be against Tampa Bay. But looking back at their schedule, in a January home and home against the Lightning, New Jersey scored 11 goals. Coincidentally, those two games were the start of their 16-1-2 run.
|Last Updated on Friday, 25 February 2011 11:56|