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The Week Ahead: 3/8-3/14 - Tanking Edition, part 2

With only 5 weeks remaining in the 2010-11 NHL regular season, the Florida Panthers have miraculously prolonged the seemingly inevitable plunge into last place despite the massive fire sale prior to the deadline. With a roster filled in with new players and AHL call-ups, we have somehow kept up with our divisional rivals and ended the games with familiar one-goal finals. We have only 16 games to will our way into last place or to the playoffs, and although it means setting an NHL record for most consecutive years without a playoff appearance, the former option seems a bit more appealing and realistic. It's all about the future now. Again, it is unbelievably painful to willingly hope for the Panthers to lose; it seems like another wasted season, but on the bright side we hadn't dipped into the bottom five all year until the last week or so. It's been a great run, and only now are we realizing the expectations of ‘the experts' who recognize us as the perennial losers. Even though it might not be in their best interests, the Panthers are not going down without a fight. We have a lot to look forward to next year. More after the jump...

Our main competition for last place is divided between 4 other teams, the Colorado Avalanche, the Ottawa Senators, the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders. The success of these teams is crucial to getting the best possible pick and hitting pay dirt at the Draft.

 

Date Away Home Benefits FLA Significance Final  Points from FLA
 8th OTT NJD OTT Ottawa moves 6 points behind OTT 2-1
Sens -8 (55)
TOR NYI NYI Isles overtake Panthers by 1 point NYI 4-3 OT Isles -1 (62)
EDM PHI EDM Oilers move 5 behind PHI 4-1 Oilers -9 (54)
BUF PIT BUF Buffalo no longer a threat PIT 3-1 Pens +23 (86)
BOS MTL MTL Doesn't much matter, ole MTL 4-1 Habs + 16 (79)
CHI FLA CHI FLA must lose FLA 3-2  (63)
COL MIN COL Avs overtake Panthers by 1 point MIN 5-2 Avs -3 (60)
9th EDM WSH EDM Oilers win again, closing the gap WSH 5-0 Caps +23 (86)
ATL CAR ATL Atlanta seperates from the pack ATL 3-2 OT ATL +4 (67)
CHI TBL TBL Lets go Lightning!! TBL 4-3 SO Bolts +21 (84)
NYR ANA NYR Rangers hold on to playoff spot ANA 5-2 Ducks +14 (77)
10th BUF BOS BUF Buffalo keeps winning BUF 4-3 OT Sabres +9 (72)
PHI TOR TOR Toronto not likely a threat PHI 3-2 PHI + 27 (90)
OTT FLA OTT Who wants to lose more? OTT 2-1 Sens - 6 (57)
MTL STL MTL Habs get some points, ole ole STL 4-1 Blues +8 (71)
11th BOS NYI NYI Isles keep moving up NYI 4-2 Isles +1 (64)
CAR WSH CAR Who cares?  WSH 2-1 Caps +25 (88)
EDM DET EDM Edmonton moves closer to the Panthers DET 2-1 OT Oilers -8 (55)
NJD ATL ATL Atlanta keeps trying NJD 3-2 OT  Devils +3 (66)
OTT TBL OTT Ottawa potentially one game back OTT 2-1 Sens -2 (61)
ANA COL COL Avs never beat this team, but lets hope they do ANA 6-2 Ducks +14 (79)
12th MTL PIT MTL Habs get even more points, ole ole ole MTL 3-0 Habs +18 (83)
BUF TOR TOR Toronto officially in contention? TOR 4-3 Leafs +5 (70)
NYI NJD NYI Isles continue to build their pride NJD 3-2 OT Devils +3 (68)
ATL PHI ATL Huge game for the Thrashers ATL 5-4 OT ATL +5 (70)
CBJ CAR CAR Again, I hate the Canes CBJ 3-2 CBJ +8 (73)
TBL FLA TBL Help our brothers take the division! FLA 4-3 OT (65)
COL NSH COL Avs continue to move away from us NSH 4-2 Preds +15 (80)
NYR SJS NYR Go Wolski!!...you too McCabe NYR 3-2 SO Rags +11 (76)
13th CHI WSH WSH Not a very critical game, at all WSH 4-3 OT Caps +25 (90)
EDM PIT EDM Edmonton overtakes the Panthers? PIT 5-1 Pens +23 (88)
OTT BUF OTT Ottawa overtakes the Panthers? BUF 6-4 BUF +11 (76)
14th TBL TOR TOR Also a quite arbitrary game TBL 6-2 Bolts +22 (87)

 

My biggest worry for the week ahead is the performance of the Colorado Avalanche. I took the time to watch the second period of their 5-1 loss to the Oilers on the 5th and I must admit they look sorrier than we do. To put it plainly, the Avs seem to have made the seamless transition to tanking after the trade deadline that the Panthers haven't made. It is equally painful to watch my two favorite teams, and it seems like we might go down to the wire to see who comes out on top (or is it ‘on bottom'?) The Isles and Oilers are playing mighty well right now; neither team seems interested in those bottom picks this year. The Sens also have been winning as of late although their schedule this week isn't going to be easy. The bottom five teams belong to two classes, those who hung around in contention as long as possible and are now tanking, like the Panthers and Avalanche, and the teams who hung around the bottom for seemingly forever who now wish to play for pride, like the Oilers, Sens and Isles. It's going to be an interesting (and painful) month ahead of us.

Since there are less than 20 games left in the season for each team, we can simulate the final standings with a little more confidence. Beware, this might mean you have to learn some simple algebra (oh no!).

y=mx+b is an algebraic function, where y is the total points earned, m is the rate of points earned (last ten games) x is the games remaining and b is the points already earned. Easy enough, right?

(Thanks for the whole box quote-equation inspiration from your PPE articles, Craig)

Using this function, at the rate we're going, the Avs will pick up the first pick with 67 points, followed by the Cats (71) Sens (72) Oilers (76) and Isles (77). This is neither the best or worst case scenario, this is what is in all likeliness to happen.

However, lets look at the best case scenario for the next week. The standings as of today (3/7/11):

Seed Team GR Points
26 Florida 16 61
27 Colorado 17 60
28 New York 15 60
29 Edmonton 16 54
30 Ottawa 17 53

 

And again, if everything follows my diabolical plan:

Seed Team GR Points
26 New York 12 66
27 Colorado 14 66
28 Edmonton 12 62
29 Ottawa 13 61
30 Florida 13 61

 

Now, I must remind us all that while we are 8 points out of 30th place, we are 11 points out of a playoff spot and our schedule has some winnable games. The effort we're playing with is commendable, and with the addition of some players (ie. Dadonov, Carter, Kennedy, perhaps Matthias and Skille soon) who knows what will happen. Conflicting intentions is an understatement.

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