By Peter Bolt
With less than a month left in the regular season I want to take a closer look at the wild card race in the Eastern Conference. Realistically, there are four remaining teams fighting for a playoff spot and only three spots that are still up for grabs which includes the last spot in the Metro and the two wild cards. The four teams fighting for these three spots consist of the Philadelphia Flyers, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the New Jersey Devils, and the Florida Panthers. Let’s take a closer look at whose gonna be the odd team out.
The Philadelphia Flyers:
The Flyers are currently 3rd in the Metro with 81 points and have 11 games remaining. The Flyers have been awful this month going (1-6-1) since the start of March. Out of their 11 games remaining, six are on the road and against some tough opponents. The Flyers will have to face the Penguins, Stars, and Avalanche on the road and all of which are currently sitting in a playoff spot. On the bright side, they do visit Detroit and Carolina; who both have close to nothing to play for. Their home games remaining are very tough games as well. The Flyers will have to play the Capitals, Rangers 2X, Bruins, and the Hurricanes. The Flyers are really going to have to pick it up if they want to see the post season this year.
The Columbus Blue Jackets:
The Jackets currently hold the first wild card spot in the East with 81 points and like the Flyers have 11 games remaining. The Jackets are on a six-game win streak and are (8-2-0) in their last ten. Out of their 11 games remaining, only three of the teams currently sit in a playoff spot. Like the Flyers, the Jackets have six road games left including a few tough opponents such as the Bruins and the Predators. In general, the Jackets don't have too tough a road schedule ahead of them. If the Jackets play half as good as they've been, they should find a way in no problem.
The New Jersey Devils:
The Devils currently hold the last wild card spot in the east with 80 points and 12 games remaining. The Devils are coming off two huge road wins against the Predators and the Golden Knights. The Devils' season has gone downhill since January, but the team has still managed to stay in the playoff race. Out of their 12 games remaining, six are at home and six are on the road. Their six road games include some tough opponents such as the Kings, Ducks, Sharks, Penguins and Capitals. Out of their six road opponents, four of them currently sit in a playoff spot with the Ducks being just one-point shy. The Devils remaining home games include the Lightning, Hurricanes, Penguins, Islanders, Rangers, and Maple Leafs. The Devils have a very tough schedule ahead of them and will have to play their best hockey if they want to break their five-year playoff drought.
The Florida Panthers:
The Panthers are currently the odd team out but have played the fewest amount of games in the league. The Panthers have 77 points with 14 games remaining in their season. Florida has been one of the hottest teams in the league going (8-1-1) in their last ten and (15-4-1) in their last 20! The Panthers are on a mission to make the postseason this year. Out of their 14 games remaining, eight are on the road and six are at home. Out of their eight remaining road games, only four are against current playoff teams such as the Bruins 2X, the Blue Jackets, and the Maple Leafs. Out of their six remaining home games, only two are against teams currently sitting in a playoff position (Predators & Bruins). If the Panthers can pick up some points on the road and win their home games their supposed to, I can’t see them missing the playoffs.
My Prediction: The Devils miss it once again.
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