And, it undeniably is. Maybe not for quality, but for the sake of playoff implications, for sure.
The NHL’s Southeast division can only be accurately described by a term once used in a commercial: it’s a traveshamockery. I suppose words like “cluster[curse]” would work fine too, but you get the point. It’s a mess.
If all divisional winners weren’t granted top seeds, the Florida Panthers would be in 7th in the East (72 points), the Capitals would be in 8th (69 points), and the Jets would be in 9th (68 points).
Not a single team in their division has a positive goal differential – the Capitals have posted the best number to date, -6. Hold your applause, please.
Tonight the Panthers travel to Winnipeg to play a crucial game against the Jets in the always-rockin’ MTS Centre. They’ve got three games in hand on the Jets to go along with their four point lead. A win tonight puts the ‘Peg a full six back and leaves them with only 16 games to make up the defecit, while the Panthers would have 19 to stay ahead, which is to say, it probably wouldn’t happen.
But a statement game from the Jets tonight could vault them ahead of the Capitals for 8th, and pull them within two of Florida. Then things would look awwwwfully interesting.
For that scenario to play of perfectly, Winnipeg needs the Caps to lose tomorrow’s game vs. the 7th place Devils, which isn’t out of the question.
This year the Southeast has been one long waiting game, with most of us just assuming the Capitals would eventually sober up and take over the division lead. But these days, it possible that they could legitimately miss the post-season.
Puck drop is at 8:30 PM EST tonight. For the Jets, tonight’s outcome has serious playoff implications.