Numbers-Standings-Seeds-Points-Lists-Trades-Salary Cap…Just when I thought my stomach had bounced back from May and June of 2010, I feel like the Vancouver series is starting all over again. The Western Conference of the NHL is nothing short of mind boggling and anyone not feeling a headache coming on; just wait its coming. While the Vancouver Canucks sit safely as the first seed at present with the Detroit Red Wings seven points behind them; knowing Vancouver’s history of not being able to put it together when it is all on the line, no one in Vancouver should be claiming victory just yet. Looking at the rest of the Western Conference, a mere six points separate the present third seed, San Jose Sharks from the present eighth place seeded Los Angeles Kings.
What does this mean for the Blackhawks? Let’s just throw another Tums in our mouths as we look at the remaining games just in the month of March. While Chicago boasts the second best home record in the NHL, we have seven road games and only three home games through the end of March. These includes contests against the Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings and Phoenix Coyotes; all road games. If that uneasy feeling still hasn’t hit you just yet, keep reading. The Hawks have a three point lead on Dallas, are six back from Detroit and only two points ahead of Phoenix. One of the three home games, March 14th, is against the Sharks who have a two point lead on the Hawks at present.
This is just the way things look today. With nine NHL games tonight, three of them involving Chicago v. Florida, Vancouver v. Phoenix and San Jose v. Nashville; just imagine how things will look a week from today when the Hawks will have played four more games; two of which will be against San Jose and the Washington Capitals –both teams are 8-2 in their last 10 games. I wasn’t planning on keeping the Tums on the end table in the living room until April, yet there they sit and the bottle is only half full right now.
The Eastern Conference isn’t looking much better, trust me. The Carolina Hurricanes, Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers could be considered all on the bubble for that elusive 8th playoff seed. The Philadelphia Flyers have a weak two point lead in the East with, get this, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruin and Washington Capitals all tied for the second place seed with 84 points. The Tampa Bay Lightening are just two points behind that train wreck and the Montreal Canadiens are another three behind Tampa Bay.
Only 15 points separate the teams presently representing the first and eighth seeds in the West and 17 points between those same positions in the East. Just taking a look at what the Capitals have waiting for them in the month of March, their fans will be looking for anti-acid coupons in the Sunday paper as well. While the Caps have 11 games remaining in March, five on the road and six at home, those home games consist of Tampa Bay (who is only two points behind them), two contests v. Montreal, and a visit from both the Red Wing and Flyers.
Gastroenterologists should start advertising in NHL publications…Meanwhile; I am off to the store to stock up on more Tums. You all should do the same. The next three months are going to warrant it.