These are the standings as of this morning in the race that no one wants to win. Call me crazy but a first round matchup with Buffalo, while daunting, is certainly no reason for all the teams from Tampa Bay to Montreal to try to tank games in order to avoid opening the playoffs in lovely upstate New York. Clearly there must be a lot of collective fear because all of those teams are doing their damndest to end up in 9th. From Toronto and Tampa getting waxed by Washingston to the Islanders giving up 8 goals to Florida the teams on the bubble have shown no desire to grab this playoff race by the horns. The Thrashers did, from a then precarious position, and now they are seemingly safely ensconsed at the top of the Southeast division.
The Leafs face the top two teams in the East three times this week so conventional wisdom holds that they will be looking at three losses. However, as I told DC when he asked me to find 11 wins for the Leafs a couple of weeks ago, the Leafs tend to wins game that they shouldn't (New Jersey and Ottawa) and lose ones that they shouldn't (Montreal and Washington). That is why I simultaneously love and loathe the Maple Leafs. So I would expect another 3 points out of the week and pray that the Leafs' running mates continue to stumble towards the finish line. Of course, conventional wisdom is called that because it generally turns out to be correct. It's a nice reminder that last year the Oilers won the race that no one wanted to win in the west and came within 60 minutes of the Stanley Cup. Once again, the weekly lineup follows:
Toronto - Tuesday Devils, Friday @ Buffaslugs, Saturday Buffaslugs
Tampa Bay - Tuesday Islanders, Thursday Devils, Saturday senators
Carolina - Thursday Capitals, Saturday Sharks
Montreal - Tuesday Bruins, Thursday @ Bruins, Saturday Capitals
NY Rangers - Monday Penguins, Wednesday Flyers, Saturday @ Bruins
NY Islanders - Tuesday @ Lightning, Thursday Penguins, Saturday @ Flyers