Before we get started, an obvious disclaimer is that this is heavily dependent on the Devils actually winning their upcoming games. All of these variables are shredded to pieces if they don’t win but this is assuming they do turn it around.
Tonight, the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers will play each other for the last time this season.
Aside for the Ottawa Senators, who are still behind them by 2 points, the Devils are alone to control their own destiny tonight. Should they win, they would stand at 79 points, 1 point behind the Maple Leafs, 2 behind the Washington Capitals, and 3 behind the Columbus Blue Jackets going into tomorrow.
The Devils have beaten the Panthers once this season and this game should be an extremely winnable game.
Tomorrow, things get a little trickier.
- NJD @ BUF – This game SHOULD be a win, even through their recent struggles. Let’s assume 81 points.
- COL @ CBJ – Despite this being a home game for Columbus, this should be a Blue Jacket loss as Colorado pursues a possible division title. CBJ stalls at 82 points.
- CGY @ TOR – Toronto will most likely get the win, but they sure are tailspinning with their L8. Regardless, let’s assume they win as a worst case scenario. Toronto moves into a losing tiebreaker with CBJ through games played at 82 points.
- DAL @ WAS – This is the biggest toss-up tomorrow. Dallas has been hotter lately and is also in the thick of a wild card race. Still, for worst case scenario, let’s assume the Caps win. Washington hits 83 points and into the final spot.
The standings would look like:
2. Washington Capitals – 76 GP, 83 pts, 26 regulation and overtime wins (ROW)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets – 75 GP, 82 pts, 33 ROW
4. Toronto Maple Leafs – 77 GP, 82 pts, 28 ROW
5. New Jersey Devils – 76 GP, 81 pts, 33 ROW
Through Tuesday, the Devils would only be back by 2 points and would have the tiebreaker of ROW if the season hypothetically ended that day.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will take on the Boston Bruins (this has loss for TOR written all over it) and the Columbus Blue Jackets will travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers (solid chance of a CBJ loss). Let’s assume worst case scenario and CBJ wins.
Yes, I know a lot of assuming and Felix Unger once said when you assume..yeah, you know the rest.
- WAS @ NJD – This has the season written all over it. This is the game that the Devils cannot under any circumstances lose or else their season is over. Giving Washington 2 points over them would spell disaster and effectively end the season. Obviously, for this scenario, we will give NJ the win.
- CHI @ CBJ – It’s the Blackhawks. They clinched a playoff spot but can take second place in the division any day now. They won’t be laying back here. CBJ loss and stalls at 84 points.
The Devils would now jump into a tie with Washington and beat them in ROW to actually have the last playoff spot.
Columbus now has the day off. Washington takes on the New York Islanders (probably a win) and the Devils will go to Carolina (who knows).
If Washington were to lose, regardless of Toronto’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, and the Devils were to win, the Devils now have sole possession of the last wild card spot as Saturday’s games end.
What the standings COULD BE by the end of Saturday (in a realistic worst case scenario):
2. New Jersey Devils – 85 points, 78 GP, 35 ROW
3. Washington Capitals – 85 points, 78 GP, 27 ROW
4. Columbus Blue Jackets – 84 points, 77 GP, 34 ROW
5. Toronto Maple Leafs – 84 points, 79 GP, 29 ROW
It’s a jam, it’s a specific scenario, it could very well be a long shot. It is possible, though. The game they cannot lose is to the Washington Capitals because it could prove to be huge in the long run. The team that the Devils need to be tied with is the Capitals because of their mainly level games played number and the Devils’ extreme advantage in regulation and overtime wins.
While they obviously need a lot of help, the hardest part will be the Devils going 4-0 but it is very realistic for them to do so.
Let’s Go Devils!