Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Mutual Assured Destruction in the Southeast

A Cloud is Forming Over Philips Arena...
The Hurricanes finish their Crap-a-thon on Friday. Got to hand it to Hanlon's boys. With little to play for as a team, they continue to battle every night. Hard to not like this crew. Other than Ovech-Hype, they are a bunch of nameless, faceless mystery men who skate and hit hard. With Jason Doig, and now Brendan Witt gone, they are a much more compelling bunch of overachievers. I'll be pulling for them...after Friday night.

JP over at Japers' Rink has some love for Mikey Commodore in the form of a nickname contest. How does, "Southeast Champion" sound?

"Mutual assured destruction" is a Cold War era phrase. The theory was that the Commies wouldn't nuke us as long as we had the ability nuke 'em right back. I think the Southeast Division schedule might just result in some mutual assured descruction for the 'Ning, Thrash, and Kitties in the closing days of the season. NHL schedulers wanted to create a schedule that would end-load division matchups in the season's final days. Montreal and New Jersey are hitting their stride and look like they'll hold their six and seven spots. I think the only hope the Panthers and Thrash have is with knocking off the up-and-down Lightning.

All of Tampa's remaining seven games are against SE teams. Their lead over the Thrash is only five points, and over the Leafs, it's only six points.

I think you can stick a fork in the Panthers. Even their radio broadcasters were saying as much last night. They put together a nice seven game winning streak in March, but they are 1-3 in their last four games. All three losses have been against SE teams. They have six games remaining, but three will be against Tampa, Washington and the season-ender vs. the Thrash. The other games are home vs. the Pens, at Toronto and at Ottawa. The Kitties can still play spoiler, and I would expect a bitter Ollie Jokinen and Gary Roberts to drive the boys towards some payback in the final days.

The Thrash have seven games remaining on their schedule-two games vs. Tampa, two versus Washington, one vs. the 'Canes and their season-ender vs. the Panthers. Only one out-of-conference game remains for Hartley's thugs-vs. a Bruins team that already has their Myrtle Beach reservations set for the end of the month. The Thrash have been very erratic this season. Like a pack of hyenas-great when they smell blood, but sulking, snippy and chippy when they find themselves getting upstaged by the lions of the league.

With seven games remaining, Toronto remains in the hunt as well. Their end-of-season schedule includes three games vs. teams they should beat if they want it bad enough-the Bruins, the Pens and the Islanders.

It's not inconceivable that mutual assured destruction could drive all remaining SE teams out of that final playoff spot. This would open the door for the Leafs to sneak in under the wire. How does an Ottawa v. Leafs matchup sound in round one? Sounds like assured Leaf destruction to me.


JP said...

If "Southeast Division Champion" is the best he can do, I think Commode will stick with the moniker he earned two years ago - "Western Conference Champion."

Oh, and that's Ovech-king, thank you very little.

CasonBlog said...

Maybe go the REM route with "Gunner 8?" He ought to be having a great season. He's taken 388 freekin' shots-43 more shots than the league's other gunner-in-chief, Jagr. Great talent-superstar in year one. Still a cherry-picker and gunner.

JP said...

He has a better +/- than Eric Staal, Justin Williams, Ray Whitney and Cory Stillman (on a team with a goal differential that's 109 goals worse than Carolina's), more assists than Williams, Doug Weight, Whitney, Rod Brind'Amour and Mark Recchi (without half the talent to pass to) and a better shooting percentage than Williams, Matt Cullen, Stillman and Whitney.

He plays much more unselfishly and is more defensively reliable than most give him credit for.

CasonBlog said...

Yes, he shares more than somebody like Ilya Kovalchuk, but he's still taken nearly one hundred more shots than anybody else in the top five among scoring leaders. Imagine Kovalchuk's goal numbers if he had taken that many shots? He's great and great for the game, but he's a gunner.