Now that has to be the most confusing post title ever. Hopefully it catches your attention and gets you to read the post and Hype It Up if you like it. In all likelihood, you'll probably just x-out this window and go back to whatever gambling/porn/instant messaging you were doing.
But if you're still with me, we've got something special. Breaking down the teams caught up in the midst of the Eastern Conference playoff chase. I'm not talking about the Devils who pretty much have a spot all locked up at the top. F*** the Devils. No one cares about them anyway (sorry, Wyshynski). I'm talking about the blue collar teams. The choke jobs. The mini-miracles. The teams who are scraping around in search of a few points to try and make their post-season dreams come true. Kind of like drug addicts except not. We've got seven teams right in the thick of things for the 8th and final playoff spot in the East (that's if you're counting the Rangers and Leafs) and somebody has got to go home unhappy. Who's it gonna be?
6th Place: New York Rangers (85 points, 9 games to go)
Last 10: 7-2-1
Remaining Opponents: NJD (3), PHI, PIT, NYI (2)
Chances most resemble: Your mom. They're not going to let you get away with it.
The Breakdown: With two guaranteed wins against an Islander team that has given up down the stretch faster than Poland, all the Rangers have to do is be even money in their other seven games. They're five up on the Flyers right now, and those two games against the eighth place boys from the Iladelph can help to strengthen their lead.
7th place: Boston Bruins (83 points, 9 to go)
Last 10: 3-4-3
Remaining opponents: MTL, TOR, OTT, BUF (2), NJD (1)
Chances resemble: Ray Bourque-era Boston Bruins, choking down the stretch. You remember them, the team that made the playoffs 24 straight seasons from 1972-73 through 1995-96 and had zero Cups to show for it. Only difference -- they probably aren't going to get into the show.
The breakdown: Two games against Buffalo will help decide the fate of these two teams, but all their other opponents are going to be tough. Five games against three of the East's top four teams. Stick a fork in 'em.
8th place: Philadelphia (82 points, 8 to go)
Last 10: 4-3-3
Remaining opponents: NYI, NYR, NJD, PIT (2)
Chances resemble: Peter Griffin. They've been screwing things up for the past month or two, but somehow manage to find a way to hang onto the 8th spot. They were in 8th on March 1st and are still there despite playing crappy hockey. Somehow, someway, against all conventional logic it will probably work out in the end.
The breakdown: Four games against the Devils and Penguins aren't going to help things, but they'll find some way (playing for the OT point, most likely) to make those games worthwhile. It's going to come down to how much they can beat up on the Islanders and Rangers. If they can take six points out of those four games, they should be fine. Just barely.
9th place: Washington Capitals (80 points, 8 to go)
Last 10: 7-3-0
Remaining opponents: CAR, TBL, FLA (2), CHI, ATL (1)
Chances resemble: David Blaine. They're annoying and always seem to hang around no matter how much you ignore them. How they're back in it after Nick Backstrom's gaffe is beyond me. Everyone was writing them off after that. This is also what happens when the Bruins and Flyers are playing not to lose.
The breakdown: They should win tonight in Chicago and Friday in Atlanta. Two gifts from the scheduling gods for a motivated team. That should push their win streak to six and put them in the top 8 by the weekend. With the only tough games left being against Carolina and Florida, they've got the easiest schedule of any of the teams in the race. I think they get in over the Bruins, and probably knock out the Panthers in the process. Or they could just choke completely. I have no idea.
10th place: Buffalo Sabres (79 points, 9 to go)
Last 10: 4-4-2
Remaining opponents: MTL, BOS, TOR, OTT (2), TBL (1)
Chances resemble: Trucker hat wearing frat boys. They're everyone's trendy pick, but all they really are is crap.
The breakdown: What everyone seems to overlooking is that they're 4-4-2 in their last 10, the worst record of the bunch except for Boston. They also got a gift from the scheduling gods with games against Tampa and Toronto this week. Forget it after that though, they play six of their last seven against Montreal, Ottawa and Boston. If they take care of business against Boston, Toronto and Tampa they have a shot, but I don't think they're playing well enough at this point. They need to hope someone ahead of them falls on their face.
11th place: Florida Panthers (78 points, 8 to go)
Last 10: 7-2-1
Remaining opponents: CAR, ATL, TBL, WSH (2)
Chances resemble: Cinderella. The clock is going to strike midnight on them sooner or later. They're going to need to keep up their torrid pace down the stretch to get in. It's tough to see them doing that. But it's OK, they have looks on their side.
The breakdown: They're the hottest team in the East, having won 7 in a row and have yet to even go into overtime in the month of March. Even though, it's hard to believe three teams from the Southeast will get in because two would need to sneak in at this point. They have just about as easy a schedule as Washington, but the two games against the Caps should all but decide which of the two is going to get in. If they take those two, they can get in, but they're still going to need a little help.
12th place: Toronto Maple Leafs (76 points, 8 to go)
Last 10: 6-3-1
Remaining opponents: BOS, BUF, OTT, MTL (2)
Chances resemble: Screech from Saved by the Bell. They're annoying as hell and never seem to go away.
The breakdown: Somehow, we're still talking about them. It's a miracle in itself that they're still close enough to be mentioned but to be fair they've won three of their last four. To continue being fair, those were two wins over Philly and one over the Islanders. Not that impressive. It's hard to imagine them doing anything with this schedule. All five northeastern teams are in the hunt, but there's not a chance in hell all five of them will get in. The Leafs need both Boston and Buffalo to choke, and while that's possible, it's not probable. What can they do about it? Get 14 points out of their last 8 games. That could sneak them in.