This post started life as a comment but since my post as contributor to the site allows me to write whatever I want (although I nixed a GREAT post for being a little NSFW) I decided to give it top billing.
A lot of the talk lately has centred around the BoO's chances for qualifying for the playoffs, the historical merits of the sens logo, and the value of blowouts. However, the first one is much more interesting. In as easy and straightforward a fashion I tried to see where the threshold for post-season qualification might lie. Last year it stood at 92 points (Tampa's final tally) and this year it looks to be in the same range. Instead of doing a real mathematical analysis (I saw this on some blog last year and cannot remember which one so if anyone finds it please e-mail it to me or post it) I just took the points per game average thus far and carried over the games left to play. Like a sens fan it is very simple but I don't have the willpower to analyse strength of schedule, previous results, probabilities, and whatever mind-bending mathematics I might have to perform to make this more legitimate. Maybe David Johnson can do it.
Without further ado, here are the projected standings:
Buffalo - 123
New Jersey - 105
Atlanta - 104
Montreal - 99
NY Rangers - 92
Boston - 90
Ottawa - 89
Carolina - 89
Pittsburgh - 88
Washington - 87
Toronto - 84
NY Islanders - 82
Tampa Bay - 80
Florida - 73
Philadelphia - 51(!)
Much to my dismay (and TSN and CBC's) this will leave the Leafs out of the top 8 and will cost JFJ his job. Basically, it will be bittersweet. However, it would offer up the following playoff series:
Buffalo - Carolina: This will allow all of those whiny Sabres fans to complain about how much the 'Canes dive without any sense of irony.
New Jersey - Ottawa: The goaltending battle shapes up well for Ottawa, Brodeur v. Ray The Gerber Baby...well means badly right?
Atlanta - Boston: The South takes on the North once again. Didn't work out so well last time.
Montreal - NY Rangers: The battle of the overrated goalies! Who cracks first? Huet or Lundqvist?
The matchups change but the jokes fit. More or less.
All of these series would feature good recent history and would go a long way to making Bettman's dream of fiercer rivalries a reality. Of course, the Leafs will make it so either Carolina, NYR, or Ottawa is out of luck. My money is on the soft southeast only sending one representative.