We’re in the thick of the playoff race. This is the best time of year. Every win counts. Every shift counts. This might be one of the closest races in recent memory. It’s playoff hockey already for three teams:
The (finally have a goalie) Carolina Hurricanes, the (how many saves can Carey Price make) Montreal Canadiens and the (all in on a bad hand) Columbus Blue Jackets.
Carolina has just ended it’s nine year playoff drought last night, guaranteeing their spot in the postseason with a win over the lowly New Jersey Devils. The fight isn’t over for them. They NEED that first Wild Card spot. Their game against the Flyers can get them just that. It’s the Flyers, they leak goals more than your 4 year old nephew leaks from his nose. There’s no reason to lose here.
Montreal has stumbled greatly at its most important time. They stunned the Lightning on Tuesday with a dominant performance, handing the lightning just their 16th loss of the year (no seriously 16 freaking losses, that’s a juggernaut holy moly). Great first game in the final push.
The Canadiens’ game against the Capitals on Tuesday didn’t exactly go as well. Carey Price stood on his head only to be out-duelled by Brayden Holtby. Of course in this case out-duelling means having your team score one goal while you make about 6000 impossible saves, several of those on Ovechkin, the greatest goal scorer ever.
Montreal plays Toronto tomorrow. A game that means the world for the Habs. If they lose: they’re out. If they win: well they still might be out, but at least there’s a chance Columbus loses one of it’s next two. This game should be absolutely chaotic. Two teams that play fast and love trying to create offence; only difference here being Toronto succeeds at that (see Marner, Mitchell).
Columbus to their advantage has a game in hand. Their disadvantage is their management went all in for this season. If they don’t make it not only are they losing two franchise stars, they’ll likely lose their rentals and everyone including the coach is getting the boot. This is the path they chose for themselves, which is nice and fun, except there’s a lot of MUCH better teams they’ll have to get through this postseason.
The Blue Jackets play the Rangers this evening and Ottawa tomorrow night. Neither of those teams scream “tough matchup” but bad hockey teams love to be spoilers. Ottawa in particular has the added desire to ruin Matt “I want to play in the playoffs” Duchene’s season. A nice little extra insult to a man who refused to stay in Ottawa after this season anyways (but do we really blame him though?). If they can squeak out just one win they likely make the playoffs. Let’s hope their legs don’t give out playing back to back games.
So where does this leave these teams?
Well basically if Carolina wins their next game they secure WC1 and play the Capitals, a very tough draw.
This leaves Montreal or Columbus fighting to lose to the Lightning in the first round. Probably in four games because: obviously.
No seriously Tampa is like really, really, really good. This isn’t explained in the movie but Thanos actually got the Infinity Stones to stop Nikita Kucherov because there’s no other way to do so. They also have Point, Stamkos, Hedman, McDonaugh and Thor. Great squad.