Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do
Using Sports Club Stats, here are the records each bubble team needs down the stretch to earn a better-than-50-percent shot of making the playoffs…
Eastern Conference (four bubble teams, two spots available)
Washington Capitals — 4-6-2
Boston Bruins — 5-6-2
Ottawa Senators — 9-3-2
Florida Panthers — 10-2-1
Welcome to the bubble list, Washington Capitals, whose playoff chances have fallen from over 99 percent a couple of weeks ago to 90.9 percent today. Yes, they got a big win yesterday over the Bruins, and true, it would be a shock if they actually did miss the postseason. That being said, the Caps don’t have the easiest remaining schedule. Road games include visits to Winnipeg, Minnesota, New York (Rangers), Montreal, Ottawa, and Detroit.
The B’s, meanwhile, can really cement their spot this week with an extremely winnable home game Tuesday versus the Sabres then key away contests Thursday in Ottawa and Saturday in Florida. For Sens and Panthers fans, reason for hope may lie in Boston’s remaining schedule, which has just five home dates compared to eight away.
Western Conference (seven bubble teams, four spots available)
Vancouver Canucks — 5-7-2
Minnesota Wild — 5-7-1
Calgary Flames — 6-6-1
Los Angeles Kings — 7-6-1
Winnipeg Jets — 7-5-1
San Jose Sharks — 9-3-1
Colorado Avalanche — 10-2-1
Back in the beginning of February, Sharks coach Todd McLellan warned his team that there’s “a pretty grueling schedule” to finish the season. Well, tomorrow in Winnipeg the Sharks start that “grueling” stretch, with 10 away games in their last 13. And unlike they’d hoped to, they haven’t built a “cushion.” In fact, they’re currently four points back of the second wild-card spot, in serious jeopardy of missing the postseason for the first time since 2003.
Likewise, the Kings aren’t currently in a playoff spot, and they too have a road-heavy remaining schedule. After hosting the Coyotes tonight, the defending champs will play just four more home dates, compared to nine away. The defining stretch for L.A. may come at the end of the month, on a five-game trip to New Jersey, New York (Rangers and Isles), Minnesota, and Chicago.