The Eastern Conference Standing are ridiculously tight--a single standing point is all that separates 6th place from 13th. If the season ended today, 5 competitive teams would be on the outside looking in. Ottawa has been red hot and pulled away from the pack to get the #5 spots which leaves 8 teams trying to squeeze into 3 spots--who will the NHL's version of musical chairs?
There are just 17 days between today and the start of the Olympic Break. There is a trade freeze during the break and the NHL Trade Deadline arrives almost immediately after the Olympics. So the next 17 days could determine which teams are buyers and which are sellers at the deadline. If one or two teams in the middle get hot (or ice cold) they could gain some separation from the other playoff wanna-bes.
Below is a table showing the schedule for each of the clubs battling for the last three playoff berths. Every team plays 8 or 9 games and several make trips out West. I have listed the Opponent's Point Winning Percentage for each game and an average Opponent's Win % at the bottom.
On paper, the Islanders face the weakest schedule and the Rangers the most challenging. Although for my money that Montreal schedule looks rather tough as well. The games are tightly packed together and players are likely getting weary--two teams end with a series of road games (ATL and BOS) which could be fatal if they give in to fatigue.
What do you think? Which team has roughest road and which has the easiest?