I know that Aaron Portzline has already “called” the Jackets as being in the playoffs, but for those of us requiring a bit more analysis, I offer the following updates. First, here is the latest incarnation of playoff projections for the West, based upon each team continuing to play at the pace they have played up to this point in time. Top 3 seeds are reserved for the division winners. Here is the latest:
1. San Jose 121 points
2. Detroit 120 points
3. Calgary 102 points
4. Chicago 100 points
5. Vancouver 98 points
6. Columbus 93 points
7. Edmonton 90 points
8. Nashville 88 points
9. Anaheim 87 points
10. Minnesota 87 points
11. St. Louis 85 points
12. Dallas 84 points
13. Los Angeles 80 points
14. Phoenix 75 points
15. Colorado 72 points
I would expect to see the gap narrow between the CBJ and Vancouver over the next week, as Vancouver just started a 6 game road trip (with a loss in Phoenix.)
For an alternate look at the playoff race, check out the chart I created here, which tracks each of the playoff contenders for the final dozen games of the year, showing current point totals, total games remaining, results for each game, the record they need to reach 90 points, and home/road breakdown. I will update this daily.
Right now, Phoenix and Colorado are out, San Jose, Detroit, Calgary are in. Vancouver and Chicago also need to be included in the “in” category, although they have not mathematically clinched yet.
Los Angeles has to be considered out, as they need a perfect 10-0 record to reach 90 points, and 9 -1 to get to 88, which is still where I see the 8 slot falling. With 7 road games in that stretch, and games against St. Louis, Nashville, San Jose and Vancouver in there, stick a fork in them.
Dallas is on the thin edge, needing an 8 – 2 record to reach 90 points, and 7 – 3 to reach 88. With Brad Richards out for the duration with a spiral fracture of the left hand, they are going to be hard pressed to generate the offense necessary to get past their remaining teams.
St. Louis has made a nice run, but may be running out of real estate. They have 3 games at home, which includes Vancouver and the CBJ, and are in a position where they must win all 3, as 6 of their final 7 are on the road, including consecutive games at Columbus, Chicago and Detroit. Prediction here is that they will fall short.
Anaheim has similarly made a great run, just when folks were counting them out. However, they have a brutal 4 game stretch ahead, where they are at Edmonton, at Vancouver, at San Jose, then home against San Jose. They have to split those games and lose no more than 2 others, to get in.
Minnesota is in a similar bind to Anaheim. They are just starting a 4 game road trip, where they visit the Rangers, Islanders, Oilers and Flames. They return home to face the Canucks and Flames again, then are off to Detroit. They also need to do no worse than a split on the 4 game road trip, and can only lose 2 others. Tough task when you are challenged in scoring as Minnesota is. They did get Gaborik back last night, so they are in the hunt.
Nashville can effectively control its own destiny with 6 wins over the final 10, but that will not be easy, with 2 vs. Detroit, 2 vs. Chicago, 2 vs. CBJ, plus Anaheim, San Jose and Minnesota.
Finally,Edmonton needs only a 5 – 5 record to reach 89 points. They play 7 of the final 10 at home, but have some tough games on the slate, including Detroit, Vancouver, San Jose, Calgary (twice), Anaheim (twice). They could falter, but if Kiprusoff stays strong, the prediction here is that they split with Anaheim, split with Calgary, win one of the Detroit, Vancouver, San Jose tilts, and beat LA and Phoenix.
In the final analysis, I am sticking with Chicago in 4th, Vancouver 5th, CBJ 6th, Edmonton 7th.
Nashville, Anaheim and Minnesota will battle for the 8th slot, with Nashville ending up with it.
All of this subject to change. Go Jackets!