Now that the Sabres are legitimately in the race for 8th, I spent part of my weekend looking at the schedules for the other teams battling for that final playoff spot. I wrote off Montreal and Carolina and for the time being, I’m ignoring the Islanders even though they are only 3 points behind the Sabres going into tonight’s games.
That means I’ll give you the important notes about the games left for Winnipeg, the team the pack is currently chasing as well as 9th place Washington, Tampa which is tied with the Sabres and Toronto who sit 1 point in back of Buffalo.
After tonight’s game with the Sabres, Winnipeg will have 15 games remaining with only 6 at home and 9 on the road. That is significant because the Jets are much better at home with a 20-10-4 record at the MTS Centre. Their road record is 11-17-4. Winnipeg will close the season with 4 of its last 5 games on the road although it will include games with Carolina, Tampa and the Islanders all of whom are currently below them in the standings.
Washington has 17 games left with 8 at home and 9 on the road. Like the Jets, the Caps prefer home cooking. They boast a 21-10-2 record at home and are only 11-18-3 on the road. Beginning with Saturday’s game in Boston, the Caps will be in a stretch where they will play 6 of 7 on opponent ice. That will include a middle of this month schedule where they play at Winnipeg, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia.
Toronto has 17 games remaining with 8 at the ACC and 9 on the road. 6 of those 17 games will be played against teams currently in the top half of the Eastern Conference standings. 2 games with Boston and Philly, 1 each with Pittsburgh and the Rangers. Toronto opens a 5 game road trip on Sunday and will visit Washington, Florida, Tampa, Ottawa and Boston over a 9 day period.
Tampa also plays 17 more times and the Lightning have the most home games left with 10. After Thursday’s game in Washington, the Lightning open a 7 game home stand. I’m a little surprised the NHL gave a team that long a home stand this late in the season. It could be a competitive edge. Tampa is 20-9-2 at home and just 11-19-4 on the road. There’s good news though. After that long home stand, Tampa plays 3 games in 4 nights at Philly, Boston and New Jersey. The Lightning also close the season with road games against Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg.