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Friday, February 29, 2008

Outside Looking In

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone, it's time to take a look at the teams battling for the final playoff spots in both conferences and see who has the best shot of getting in and who's going to be playing golf early.

Eastern Conference

#8 Philadelphia Flyers 71 Points

As of right now with tonight's win over the Ottawa Senators, the Flyers are back in the playoffs as the 8-seed. If the Flyers can tread water until guys like Mike Richards and Joffrey Lupul come back from injuries they should be able to sneak in and maybe even get the 7-seed.

They have proven that they can be a competitive team with their play prior to the last 12 games when all the injuries happened and could be a dangerous team in the playoffs.

#9 Buffalo Sabres 71 Points

I don't see how Buffalo gets into the playoffs now. Trading away top defenseman Brian Campbell is going to take its toll sooner than you'd think.

Think of it this way, you're at a bar. You see this smoking hot woman sitting three stools down from you. Your buddy leans over and convinces you to go for it. You take a deep breath and get up from your stool and begin the walk across No Man's Land. As you're about to introduce yourself you trip on some bar nuts and dump your drink all over her, thus killing your chances and leaving you humiliated and settling for a dirty movie later on.

The Sabres just might have been able to make the playoffs before the Campbell trade, but there was no way they were making a deep run so they'll have to wait until next season to get up the nerve to approach another hot woman.

#10 New York Islanders 69 Points

Can there possibly be a more inconsistent team in the league than the Islanders? A couple weeks ago they were floundering like a fish out of water and putting their entire fan base on suicide watch.

Now all of a sudden they're 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and just two points out of a playoff spot. Depending on which team shows up down the stretch and potentially the playoffs, they could make things interesting or help out the teams ahead of them in the standings.

#11 Washington Capitals 66 Points

Two words will suffice here. No Chance.

They made some great deals at the deadline, namely getting Cristobal Huet, but it might be a little too late for them to make a push. The only way they get in is if Carolina takes off the rest of the season and plays like they are trying to hit a wiffle ball in a tornado.

Western Conference

#7 Vancouver Canucks 73 Points

If there is a team that could potentially fall out of the top eight, it's them. This team needed to go out and get a scorer at the deadline and could only get Matt Petinger? Are you kidding me?

With the amount of defensive talent that the Canucks have, they should have been able to land Olli Jokinen or Vinny Prospal.

Roberto Luongo is completely capable of putting a team on his back and carrying them to the promised land, but a long cup run is a pretty steep endeavor.

#8 Colorado Avalanche 72 Points

There is no way this team doesn't make the playoffs. They've basically re-assembled the Stanley Cup Champion team from 2000-2001. The only key players missing are Alex Tanguay, Ray Bourque and the greatest goalie of all-time Patrick Roy.

I'd be willing to bet Roy still has some game left in him and if I could persuade him to come back and was coach of the team I'd go with him in a second of Jose Theodore and Peter Budaj at this point.

If the Avs go on to win the cup this year, watch for more teams to go out and get players of old to re-claim glory.

Side note: You know how ESPN and other sporting outlets do those "Which team would win? The 1992 Pittsburgh Penguins or the 2007 Penguins?" What the Avs are doing right now is about as close to the real thing as we will ever see.

#9 Nashville Predators 72 Points

The only way this team gets in is if Luongo can't get the Canucks in on his own. Yes they're tied right now, but with a 4-4-2 record over their last 10 games, this could be the slump that sinks this ship.

#10 Phoenix Coyotes 71 Points

The Fighting Gretzkys have a fighting chance to make the playoffs and annoy us all with another "White Out in the Desert." (If you don't get that reference go back and watch tape from their last playoff run and here's some advice: wear sunglasses to save your eyes from the glare.)

What is going to help them is getting Al Montoya at the trade deadline from the Rangers. (Nice move NY, if Hank goes down, so does any chance you have of winning the cup this year.) Wayne has actually done a good job with this team this year and with a little luck they may just sneak in as the 8-seed.

I don't see a long playoff run, but within a couple years they could be a very dangerous team.

Take these with a grain of salt obviously as some of my recent predictions haven't panned out so well, but you got to get back up on the horse even after he kicks you in the head and then stomps on your manhood.

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