Eastern Teams Scramble for Playoffs
There was a time when you wouldn't think that three proud franchises would have to scrap and claw their way to the final playoff spot. But that's the situation this week as the Philadelphia Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins jockey for position as the regular season clock ticks down. They each have 91 points in the chase for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot in this the last week of the regular season. And a couple of games have them matched against one another in mammoth showdowns.
The possible scenarios are almost too confusing to summarize. Suffice it to say that anyone who wins out gets in. Otherwise a convoluted tiebreaker formula may have to settle the whole thing.
Islanders Are In
The New York Islanders wrapped up the first wild-card spot in the East on Tuesday by taking a 4-3 win at Washington. The Flyers seem to be in a better position than the Bruins or Wings, too. Winners of three of four, they square off in a showdown game at Detroit on Wednesday.
Injury Update: Andrew MacDonald will not play Wednesday due to an upper body injury & will be listed as day-to-day ? https://t.co/httCbkmHCu— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 4, 2016
They have two home games left against Toronto and Pittsburgh before hitting the road for New York and the Islanders to close out their season.
That brings us to Detroit. The Red Wings have also won three of four and face the do-or-die game with Philadelphia on Wednesday. But then they have to turn around and take on Boston in another winner take all on Thursday. The Wings complete their season on Saturday, facing the Rangers in Madison Square Garden. The Bruins appear to be in the direst situation of the three teams, but they control their own fate. Boston is in the middle of a tailspin, losing eight of their last 10 games. They took a bit of a setback Tuesday night when they suffered a 2-1 home shootout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. But it gave them a point, to fall into the tie with the Flyers and the Red Wings. Their backs are against the wall when they face off against the Detroit Thursday.
Matchup With Lightning?
I know, it's confusing, but these key games will be crucial to follow because of the implications for the survivor going forward. There's a good chance that whoever comes out of this mess with a playoff spot will be matched with the Tampa Bay Lightning, who will come limping in without two key players, Steven Stamkos and Anton Stralman. That means that the last playoff qualifier could actually have a chance to advance. After that, it's anyone's guess.
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