We are nearing the 60 game mark on the 2010-11 season and playoffs are now on everyone’s mind.
To no surprise, the Philadelphia Flyers are sitting comfortably atop the Atlantic Division and the entire Eastern Conference just waiting to hear the words, “clinched playoff spot.” The New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils are out and playing for pride while the slipping Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers are still very much in the hunt. It will be interesting down the stretch to see where each team finishes but it seems like the Atlantic will be represented by three teams in this year’s playoffs.
According to the last few NHL seasons, the range of points needed for a team at least finish in the eighth and final playoff spot in the East has been between 88 and 94. Every year the bottom line changes slightly but just say 90 is the key to this year’s Eastern Conference playoffs.
As of now the Pittsburgh Penguins are nine wins away from the 90 point total with 27 games remaining. It’s a safe bet that we’ll see Sidney Crosby and company once again causing problems for opponents and advancing deep into the playoffs. Crosby missed a few games recently with concussion issues, but should be around to finish the season and lead his team on another Stanley Cup run.
The New York Rangers, with 62 points, are 14 wins away from 90 points with 26 games remaining. The Rangers have a tougher road to the playoffs than the Penguins from this point on having to win at least more than half of their remaining games. Coming off a three-game losing streak, they better find their groove before the playoffs start slipping away.
Consistency seems to be becoming an issue that the Rangers need to fix. With Ryan Callahan back in the line-up their team should be back where they want to be. Brandon Dubinsky continues to lead the team in points and is tied for the goal total lead with Brian Boyle. These are categories Marian Gaborik needs to start producing at the level we all know he can.
Although the Devils have been winning games of late and have officially passed the Islanders leaving them at the bottom once again, they have only 44 points on the season so far and unless they can win 23 or 24 of their remaining 28 games, it looks like New Jersey will have to wait until next year.