After losing in Atlanta on Sunday afternoon, the Canes went home to take a few days off. They had the first of two four day breaks in their schedule, and the team decided to give the players a couple of days with no practice and no meetings. The players used this time to do things that husbands and fathers do -- they took their kids to school, took the family to dinner, things like that.
Carolina finds itself in the ninth spot in the East with 14 games left to play. They know that they will have to fight hard to earn a playoff spot. It's becoming increasingly unlikely that they find a way to win the division, so they'll have to fight for what will be the eighth seed. I've looked at the schedules of all the teams competing for the last few playoff spots, and Carolina actually looks pretty good in that respect. Their remaining games are "soft" by comparison. Although they will have to play Atlantic Division leading New Jersey in a home-and-home, they will have three games against the Panthers and two against the Capitols, both of whom are below the Canes in the SE Division, plus a game against the dreadful Flyers. According to today's standings, the average seed of Carolina's remaining opponents is 8.9, and half of their games will be against teams below them in the standings.
On the other hand, there's the Leafs. Toronto is presently in the eighth spot with the same number of points as the Canes, but a game in hand. Seven of their remaining 15 games are against teams in the "top 5" in the East, including a home-and-home with the Senators and a home-and-home with the Sabres. Only six of their remaining 15 games are against teams below them in the standings.
I'm guessing that Toronto will win seven of their games to finish the season with 87 points. I'm also guessing that the Canes will win eight of their games to finish the season with 89 points. It should be a dogfight between Carolina, Toronto, Montréal and the Rangers for the eighth spot. Whoever gets it (and I'm guessing it will be Carolina) will have the unenviable task of facing the powerful Sabres in the first round.
Hey, nobody thought Edmonton would go anywhere last playoffs. All they did was catch fire, beat the regular season's best team, and remain on fire until game 7 of the SCF.
Here's the first half of the team-by-team comparison of games remaining:
5 years ago