The NHL season has one week remaining and three teams in the Eastern Conference are fighting for the final two spots with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Carolina Hurricanes, and Maxi Domi ‘s Montreal Canadiens still in the playoff hunt.
If the playoffs were to begin today, Max Domi and the Montreal Canadiens would be the odd-team out. They have 92 points, while the Carolina Hurricanes have 93 and the Columbus Blue Jackets have 94 points.
In the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche currently have the final playoff spot. However, the Arizona Coyotes are still mathematically alive. The Coyotes trail the Avalanche by 2 points with 3 games remaining. They take on the last-place Los Angeles Kings tonight, but have two other games against playoff-bound teams. The Avalanche have three games remaining including Edmonton and Winnipeg at home in Denver, before ending the season in San Jose.
East Bubble: Three Teams, Two Spots
The Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby are essentially a lock for the playoffs with the #6 seed in the East. The Columbus Blue Jackets won five game in a row, which is why they are currently in the #7 spot. They also went 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, so the Blue Jackets are peaking at the right time. They also have the second-best penalty killing unit in the NHL at 84.9 percent.
The Blue Jackets have three games remaining, but two are road games against eliminated teams. They face the Boston Bruins in Columbus, before they finish the season on the road. The Blue Jackets have favorable matchups including a trip to Madison Square Garden to take on the listless NY Rangers. For the last game of the season, Columbus skates against the worst-team in the league, the Ottawa Senators.
The Carolina Hurricanes have three more games, but two of those are against teams eliminated from the playoffs. The New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers are dunzo. However, the Hurricanes take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in their next game. If they can beat the Leafs, it will put the Carolina Hurriances in an envious position, especially with the Canadiens facing three tough teams in their final three games.
C’est La Guerre
The Canadiens have been in playoff mode the last couple of weeks. They won 6 out of their last ten games, but need to go perfect in their final three contests if they want to sneak into the playoffs.
Max Domi, the son of NHL brawler Tie Domi, leads the Canadiens in scoring with 70 points. Domi scored 27 goals and tallied 43 assists in 79 games this season. Domi overcame a down cycle at the start of March. He went scoreless in 6 out of 8 games, but his only two-goal game in March occurred in the middle of that streak. Domi has 8 points in the last seven games.
Montreal’s next game is against the best team in the NHL. The Tampa Bay Lightning have been unstoppable this season, but this is the type of test that will determine their playoff-worthiness.
If that is not daunting enough of a task, the Canadiens have to head down to DC to play the defending champions. The Caps still posted 102 points without head coach Barry Trotz, who turned around the New York Islanders.
Then the Canadiens finish the regular season against their rival. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Canadians have played several historic and insane battles over the years. Fitting that this match up could determine a final playoff spot.
Simply put, if the Canadiens beat the best in the East, then they will have a shot at the Stanley Cup.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the best team in the NHL with 60 wins and 124 points. They will be the top seed in the East. The Calgary Flames have 50 wins and 107 points and locked up the #1 seed in the Western Conference. According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book in Las Vegas, the Tampa Bay Lightning are+140 favorites to win the Stanley Cup. The Flames are 8/1 odds to win the Cup.