The Eastern conference playoff picture is about as clear as the Charles Rivah in Boston.  Let’s start with what we know … it’ll be like Sudoku … trust me.  The top six teams are in.  Boston will be in the 3rd spot as neither Buffalo nor Montreal will catch them to win the East and there’s no way they can move up.  See how easy this is?  Well, it’s the ONLY spot in the East that is settled.  The Caps and Flyers are battling for the #1 spot.  Its Washington’s to lose as they play a home and home with Florida … one of the worst teams in the NHL.  Philly has a tough game against the Sabres and a gimme with the Isles.  I’m giving the edge to the Caps here.  Next up, are the 4th and 5th spots.  Tampa can still move up to #4 but they’ll need Pittsburgh to falter.  The Pens see the Isles and the Thrashers on the road where Tampa has Florida and Carolina.  I can see TB coasting in, which is never a good way to enter the playoffs, and staying in the 5th spot.  The final three spots are totally up for grabs.  Montreal is in and they’ll take one spot.  Looking over their schedule, it’s a tough one and I can see them easily losing both of their remaining games.  The Rangers, who took a huge hit losing Callahan for the rest of the season, have 2 pretty easy games on paper but I think they’ll have issues.  Then there’s Buffalo.  I predicted with 12 games to go, the Sabres would need 18 points to get in.  Since that date, they are a hot 7-1-2 and need one more win, with 2 games left, to hit the 18 point mark which I think they’ll do.  With all that said, here’s what the puzzle looks like finished:

  1. Washington – 109
  2. Philadelphia – 107
  3. Boston – 101
  4. Pittsburgh – 106
  5. Tampa Bay – 99
  6. Buffalo – 94
  7. Montreal – 93
  8. NY Rangers – 92
  9. Carolina – 90

Sorry Carolina, maybe next season.  Btw, I love these matchups!  Tomorrow, I’ll predict the West.