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Question of the Day

Has anyone looked at the Eastern Conference standings today? They're absolutely nuts. Only three standings points separate sixth from 11th -- with only a week to go.


Basically, six teams are fighting for three spots. The Rangers, Lightning and Canadiens are currently sixth, seventh and eighth. The Maple Leafs, Islanders and Hurricanes are just behind. So there's not an inch for error. I couldn't imagine being a player on one of those teams. One bad pass, a single stupid penalty or soft goal could cost your team (and city) a playoff berth. Talk about pressure.

Here are some of my random thoughts on the situation:

Tampa Bay, IMO, is probably the best of the bunch. And definitely the most fun to watch. The Lightning has goaltending issues, for sure, but it also boasts tons of firepower in Lecavalier, St. Louis and Richards. So for pure entertainment value, I'd like to see them get in.

I used to cover the Islanders, so for sentimental reasons, it's always nice to see them do well. Particularly in light of all the crazy ownership issues they've suffered through in recent years. But I don't really like their chances without goalie Rick DiPietro, who's out with a concussion.

Bad things are going to happen in Toronto if the Maple Leafs don't manage to squeeze in. I mean, heads are going to roll. It's not going to be pretty.

Even if the Rangers get in, I don't see them going deep. I can't put my finger on exactly what it is about the Blue Shirts -- I just haven't been impressed with them this season.

I would lump the Canadiens and Hurricanes in that group, as well. As much as I would like to see the 'Canes get the chance to defend their title, they've got too many flaws to get far. Losing to the Flyers, the league's worst team, last night really hurt, too.


By Tarik El-Bashir  |  March 29, 2007; 12:37 PM ET
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