Updated on Tuesday March 8, about 12:15 in the morning...
I have updated all teams for games through Monday, March 7th. I have removed Columbus and St. Louis from the blob, as it's a pretty fair assumption that given the Western Conference, those two teams are pretty well cooked. Feel free to argue this point with me in the comments, I'll need something to read through in class tomorrow. Also, I'm too lazy to bother moving around all the teams from the order that they were in before, so now I've updated each team's little blurb to also include their current position as compared to their previous position. I'll continue updating this post as the homestretch continues.
Additionally, I did not update the Blob Classifications for the Blue Jackets and Blues or any other teams as I think it's probably obvious by now that the Blues and Jackets are finished, and since we have the freedom to think whatever the hell we want, think whatever you want on the Blob.
Hey everyone. I'm a massive lurker here, but I pick up the Indian at the UC every home game I go to -- my dad and I have season tickets in Section 320. I love this site, and read it all the time.
So, as we all know from this maddeningly inconsistent season, the Blackhawks are back in the thick of the massive jumble of teams fighting for position for the right to say they were one of eight survivors and a chance to defend last year's Stanley Cup championship in this year's playoffs.
Since I say I lurk a lot, I know you guys have gone over a ton of statistical comparisions, and I enjoyed reading all of your posts.
But, statistics aside, my father was wondering the other day about what the schedules look like for the contenders?
Fair warning: This is going to be a very long fanpost, so if you're not ready to sit down and read it all, then don't read just yet. If you want to waste your time reading this, then read on!
So, what is "The Blob"? Well, the "blob" is the name that my dad gave to the gigantic mess of teams that are jockeying for position in the wild, wild, Western Conference.
So who's in the blob, who's above the blob, and who's below the blob?
March 7 Standings Update -- if you want, I'll put up the original standings for more comparison.
Right now two teams are currently above the blob: the Vancouver Canucks, at 87 points and the hated Detroit Red Wings, with 82 points, are pretty well punched in for the second season, barring some massive collapse.
Pretty much the entire rest of the conference is in "the blob", and the two teams that are out of the blob are the Colorado Avalanche, with 59 points, and the Edmonton Oilers, the doormat of the conference (and the NHL) with 48 points.
That leaves eleven teams in the middle, or as we'll call them, "the blob" -- although the San Jose Sharks, with 78 points look like they're beginning to break away now, but for the purposes of this post, we'll leave them in the blob since the Phoenix Coyotes (75 points) are still on their tail. You could make the argument that both the Sharks AND Coyotes are a few more wins away from achieving a clean break away from the "blob", and they are. However, they're still in the blob because one ill-timed bad stretch could knock them right back into the perilous position of missing the playoffs entirely.
The other nine jockeying around are the Los Angeles Kings, with 74; the Minnesota Wild, and the Dallas Stars, with 72 apiece, the Calgary Flames with 71 points; our beloved Chicago Blackhawks and the trapping Nashville Predators with 70 points apiece; the Anaheim Ducks with 69 points; followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets with 68 points; and our other mortal enemy down I-55, the St. Louis Blues are still barely lurking with 65 points, although another run like the one they had at end of 2008-2009 season could certainly launch them into the playoffs given the cluster of teams still jumbled together together.
So when my dad gave me the idea of this, I ran with it. I decided that it would be easier to skip the rest of February (even though some teams will play two games in the last two days of the month) and picked March 1st as our starting point for the homestretch.
So, here's our combined totals of our thirteen teams in the fight, with games from March 1st through April 10th:
Quick fix: The Calgary Flames should have 4 games below the blob, not 3. Think that's the only error, and I'm too lazy to go back and fix it now.
Based on this comparison, the Blue Jackets will have the most games left to play when March 1st rolls around, with the Flames having the least, tied with the Coyotes. The Predators will have 12 of their last 15 games at home (show below).
The Blackhawks in particular, have almost half their schedule against Eastern Conference teams, and four of them are with the teams from the Sunshine State. That could be a huge help, especially if we can win the majority of them.
Look at the Dallas Stars. All but three of their remaining games are against teams that are currently in the "blob". They have very little room for error if they want to make it to the second season.
Those are just some of the flash highlights I have off the top of my mind. I'm not going to spend the time going through each and every team right here, since the full schedules of each team follow below.
So now, here's the schedules of all the remaining teams that are in the fight, starting with the supposed Stanley Cup-elect, the Vancouver Canucks:
March 7 update: Vancouver has tacked on six points, raising their total to 93 for the season. They remain first in the Western Conference, and also remain as the most annoying team in said Conference.
Obviously the Canucks are the top of the conference, so most of their games are going to be against the blob. Only one against the East.
Next up, 2nd place Scum:
March 7 update: Scum have raised their total from 82 to 86 points, which leaves them only six points ahead of us, with three showdowns remaining. Bit of a rough stretch there for them at the end of February and at the start of March.
As with the Canucks, most of the Scum games are going to be against the Blob, but they do have four against the East which could help them catch up to Vancouver.
3rd place San Jose is next:
March 7 update: The Sharks remain hot despite their loss to the Stars on Saturday night. They now have 82 points, and remain four ahead of Phoenix in the Pacific, and are still the third seed in the conference.
The Sharks end their season with thirteen games in a row against the blob, including a home-and-home against the Coyotes which could end up deciding the Pacific division title. Their last eight games are against their own division. Damn.
The first of the non-division leaders, the Phoenix Coyotes:
March 7 Update: Phoenix has added just three points, and dropped from fourth to seventh in the conference, after Dallas's overtime victory against the Kings Monday night. They are now behind Chicago and Calgary, though Phoenix has a game in hand, with a huge showdown against the Flames coming up next Tuesday.
Again, the home and home is there with the Sharks. The Oilers get the Scum and Canucks for three games. Holy cow, I'm just realizing now that the Pacific is playing a TON of games against each other, as you'll see with the Ducks, Kings and Stars coming up later. That is going to be one entertaining and exhausting fight to the finish in that division.
Another Pacific division gladiator, the Kings, are in fifth place:
March 7 update: The Kings lost in overtime in a showdown with their fellow Pacific Division brethen, the Dallas Stars. However, they move up to 77 points and are in the eighth spot, which would give them a repeat of last year's first round rematch with Vancouver.
Again, the war of the Pacific is clearly evident here...
Thought to be fighting for the right to stay out of the basement instead of in the thick of the playoff race, the Minnesota Wild are in sixth place:
March 7 update: Formerly sixth place, the Minnesota Wild have only added three points with a rough night on Long Island hurting them. The Wild are now in a three-way tie (by points) for ninth place.
The team with one of the ugliest jerseys in hockey, in my opinion, is a beneficiary of several games against the East, and also to be in the Northwest with the Avalanche and Oilers, getting those two cellar dwellers for three games. To balance that out, they also have Detroit once and Vancouver twice.
The fourth entrant from the Pacific in the blob, the Dallas Stars prove once again that the Pacific is shaping up to be an incredible battle to the finish:
March 7 update: The Stars won last night against the Kings, punting the Flames down to sixth. They now hold the fifth spot. Big game against Detroit tomorrow night.
The Stars have 17 of 20 remaining games against the Blob, with a home-and-home against the Avalanche, and a matchup with the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Flyers. Man, that schedule sucks for Dallas. March comes in like a lion for them, with four division games in a row.
The final playoff spot after last night's games goes to the Calgary Flames...
March 7 update: Calgary has tacked on eight points since the original post, rising from eighth to fifth place in the conference, though every single team in the conference has at least one game in hand on Calgary.
They'll have the least number of games to work with, tied with the Coyotes. The Flames get the Avalanche and Oilers for four games though they also have Vancouver for two. We'll visit these guys on Wednesday night, hopefully we can put a hit on their playoff hopes that night. If they hang in there, the Canucks could be the one to knock them out on April 9th. Also, I just noticed an error in that the Oilers were accidentally labeled part of the blob for April 6. Whoops.
And now, the just-recently found Chicago Blackhawks, currently in 9th place but hopefully not for much longer:
March 7 update: No explanation needed. You all know what's transpired with our beloved Blackhawks since the original post.
Wow. Nine of 19 games against the East in March and April, including a stretch of five in a row for the Blackhawks. We gotta take advantage of this. Keep the momentum rolling, guys...
Next up is the 10th place Predators, who we just knocked out of the top eight for the first time in weeks on Thursday night:
March 7 update: Not much has changed with Nashville, who are part two of three in that three-way tie with Minnesota and Anaheim, only now they're 11th place instead of 10th. They've got 75 points now.
Twelve, that's right, twelve, of Nashville's last fifteen games are at home. Their schedule is among the most evenly spread, with a little sprinkling of everything. Hopefully they don't get themselves fixed up because I don't want to see them in the playoffs again, whether or not we make it. Plus, it would give me good teasing material for my cousin if the Preds don't make it and we do :D
The final combatant in war of the Pacific are the Anaheim Ducks, who have been struggling without Jonas Hiller:
March 7 update: The Ducks are not only embroiled in the epic tilt that is the 2011 Pacific Division race, they're also embroiled in a three-way tie currently with Nashville and Minnesota, although they've moved up a notch to 10th place.
These guys are going to have it rough in the Pacific if they keep struggling. And we play them on the 26th, I'll be at that game after a track meet.
Another of our fellow division rivals that are in the Blob, the Columbus Blue Jackets:
While Columbus still has one of the fewest number of games played in the entire conference, they're pretty well cooked. Still 12th place, and have only gained two points in the last week or so since the original post, one of which was in their shootout loss to the Blues last night. I'm not going to bother updating these guys since they're just about finished.
The Jackets are the other primary beneficiary of getting to play the East, with six games against our seaboard conference. However, they don't get much slack against the Blob, plus with three against Vancouver and Detroit in the homestretch.
And our mortal enemy down I-55, the St. Louis Blues, bringing up the rear and barely hanging on in the free-for all:
March 7 update: These guys are fucked. Not even bothering to update these guys either. Unless you want me to so we can laugh at the misfortune of the Blues. They've only picked up two points in the time since I posted this, and that was just last night against Columbus.
The Blues have work to do if they're going to make a run like they did in 2008-09 to sneak in and then promptly get swept by Vancouver, who then got beat by us, who then got beat by Scum, who then got beat by the Pens....
Well, that's what I've got. I hope this was an enjoyable (if long read) and that the pictures worked out. If they didn't then I'll fix them up sometime tomorrow.
As always, GO BLACKHAWKS!