Monday, March 22, 2010

Scouting the Opposition

Because unlike Congress, I think you should pay attention to those who oppose you, let's take a look at the teams directly ahead of the Thrashers and that one team clinging to hope behind the Thrashers in the standings.

The Atlanta Thrashers have played 72 games and have amassed a record of 32-29-11 for 75 points, good for 9th place as of March 22, 2010.

First of all, the Boston Bruins who sit one point ahead of Atlanta with one fewer game played.

Boston Bruins. 71gp, 32-27-12, 76 pts. The Bruins have been holding steady since losing Marc Savard to Matt Cooke's thuggery, and have posted a 5-4-1 record over the last 10. Most recently, they have won 3 and lost 2 in the last 5. Timmy Thomas seems to have lost his starting job to Tuukka Rask, who has proven quite formidable.

Three teams are tied at 79 points, just four ahead of Atlanta. All have 10 games remaining.

Philadelphia Flyers. 4-4-2 in their last 10, 1-3-1 in their last 5 including 2 straight losses to Atlanta. They have lost goaltenders Ray Emery and Michael Leighton, so they're down to Brian Boucher and Jeremy Duschene who played in the ECHL this season. After last night's game, they have also lost Jeff Carter for the rest of the regular season. A team in a slump has just received significant blows to morale, momentum, and health.

Ottawa Senators. 2-7-1 in their last 10 and a big 0-5 in the last 5. This team has hit the same kind of wall that Atlanta did two weeks ago. They don't have any injuries that look to hamper them down the stretch, but their goaltending is streaky and unreliable, as is their goal scoring. Picking up 4 points on this team over 10 games looks pretty realistic right now.

Montreal Canadiens. Les Habs have been very hot lately. They have won 7, lost 2 in regulation, and dropped 1 in overtime over the past 10, and had won 4 straight before losing to the Leafs this weekend. With Cammalleri and Bergeron due back immediately from injury, they don't look to slow down any time soon. I would expect them to finish in 5th by default.

Obviously the Thrashers can catch and pass the Bruins by winning in regulation tomorrow night, but the Bruins will have a game in hand. The Thrashers would have to be 1 point better over 9 remaining games than the Bruins are over their remaining 10 games. If all teams continue playing as they have lately, the Thrashers also have hope of catching the Flyers and Senators.

A week ago we were lamenting dead hope. Now it is actually feasible that the Thrashers could take 6th place. Feasible, but still a long shot.

Oh yes, and there are the Rangers sitting 4 points behind Atlanta in the 10th spot in the East. With 10 games left, the Rags are 31-32-9. In their last 10, they have put up 3-5-2 and have lost 3 straight for a 2-3 record over the past 5. Callahan and Avery are injured but will probably be back soon. Lundqvist has been average lately, and with scoring like theirs, the Rangers can't have average goaltending. If the Rangers catch the Thrashers, it will be because the Thrashers collapse, not because the Rangers fought back.

Since the Bruins have a game in hand, the Thrashers' playoff hopes are not entirely in their own hands. Every game must be a Game 7 for this team until they head back to the locker room on April 10.

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