Friday, April 10, 2009

Montreal Or New York

No more guessing. No last game heroics. With just days to go until the end of the season, the Eastern Conference teams are set for the playoffs. Except for who will be opening their first playoff round game in Washington, DC. It it may look like it will take the last game of the season to determine that.

The New York Rangers will win any tiebreaker with Montreal since they have more wins. The only way the Canadiens can take the number seven spot from them is if they win and the Rangers lose. For the Capitals, both teams present challenges. But who is a better matchup?

The Rangers are still having trouble getting their scoring going, but if Henrik Lundqvist is on top of his game that makes for a sneaky Ranger team that could pose problems. After getting off to a lightning quick start, the Rangers have struggled down the stretch. They fired head coach Tom Renney and hired John Tortorella. While the coahing change helped them avoid a first to worst scenario, if the Rangers can't score they will likely be dead in the water.

The Canadiens definitly do not have a scoring problem. With aces like Alex Kovalev and the Kostitsyn brothers, there is no shortage of a power offense. However, the Habs are injured on the blue line and their goaltending in Carey Price has been a hot/cold issue all season long. Montreal would like to avoid facing Boston in the first round if they can, which means they will be gunning for the seventh spot.

The Capitals are looking at two very different teams going into the playoffs and it is a pick your poison scenario. The Capitals have won both season series against both teams. That mental confidence could help.

The Florida Panthers gave it a valient effort, but came up short. Their game against the Capitals will be only for pride as their playoffs hopes died with the Rangers and Canadiens accumulating points in their games last night. It will be interesting to see if Boudreau will rest anyone for Saturday's game.

NHL Notes:
  • Things are tight in the West. Three teams are tied with 88 points for the last playoff spot. Anaheim, St. Louis and Nashville will take this to their last games. Minnesota has an outside shot at getting in, but the fore mentioned three would have to lose their reaming games and the Wild would have to win their last two.
  • Colorado Avalanche's Joe Sakic will finish the rest of the season watching from the press box. This also puts his career up in the air, will the veteran retire in the summer months? Sakic has been deemed Captain Clutch for his ability to score the big goal when his team needed it the most. If Sakic retires, then there goes a the last of the team that was, Patrick Roy, Sakic, Ray Bourque.
  • If you are keeping up with College hockey and the Frozen Four, both Bemidji State and Vermont were knocked off at the Verizon Center last night. To be honest, I haven't been following any of the Frozen Four coverage. So let me know how it comes out.
  • The Boston Globe has reported that the next Winter Classic will be at Fenway Park. And the Capitals could be the opponent they face. Originally, officials wanted Montreal to attend, but there seems to be a scheduling faux paux with that plan. Either the Flyers or the Caps could take part in the New Year Day festivities.

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