With under 10 games left in the season, some teams are fighting for a playoff shot while others are preparing for a long playoff push. For some of those Eastern Conference playoff teams showing abnormal decline in play leaves many fans wondering if they will even get out of the first round? Below is a list of current Eastern Conference teams slotted into the playoffs with their current standings while looking at their last 10 games played record and some of their potential concerns.
New York Rangers – 1st Eastern Conference (4-5-1 in)
As typical, Ranger’sHead Coach John Tortorella has more drama than a Soap Opera. While Tortorella may be dodging blame and pointing fingers instead for his team’s recent fight filled game between the New Jersey Devils, he may wish to focus more on the quality of play he is getting form his guys. Winning just 4 games in their previous ten, one of which was last night to end a 2 game skid, the team is losing to quality, playoff teams. Sure they beat the Devils and the Boston Bruins in these last 10, but they have also lost another game to the Devils as well as the Ottawa Senators, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Colorado Avalanche; all playoff teams. So, when
the Rangers actually play some tough teams come playoffs, will the team win the games or fold under pressure?
Ottawa Senators – 7th Eastern Conference (5-3-2)
The Senatorsare winning but also losing, not really gaining any ground. This may be a concern given they are only 4 points up on 8th seed. But is there a need to worry? Team leaders Jason Spezza and team Captain Daniel Alfredsson are both healthy. Considering they both have been plagues with injuries throughout their careers, Senators fans should be pretty darn happy. Furthermore, despite a culinary mishap by main netminder Craig Anderson, acquired Ben Bishop has filled in nicely, going 3-1-2 with a 2.10 goals against average. Fear not though, Anderson has participated in a full practice, and without any setbacks, should be back sooner than later. With an
honorable mention of Erik Karlsson’s record high 72 points to date, and yes, the Senators are looking to be just fine come playoffs under new Head Coach Paul MacLean.
Washington Capitals – 8th Eastern Conference (5-4-1)
A rough season for the Capitals who have seen a coaching change as well as some players come under scrutiny. They picked up a good win last night against the Detroit Red Wings where franchise player Alex Ovechkin scored two goals; looking like his old self. Will he ever return to a a 50 goal scorer, sure, but maybe not for a few years. The team has a work ethic problem or as some would much rather say, too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Nicklas Backstrom, who was on pace for 70+ points continues to be sidelined because of a concussion but has been symptom-free for a short while. Still no timetable for his return. The team also has three goalies with 2.53 plus goals against averages and a disappearing act greater than Houdini by defenseman Mike Green (7 points in 23 games). The team is not jelling and will not this year nor the playoffs. An early exit in the playoffs and a long off-season with some tough decisions.