Boston holds our first round draft selection, this is common knowledge. But to sweeten our side of that particular deal, we can finish as high as possible to lower that draft pick. We've accomplished what I'll call Step One: getting it out of the Top 5, thereby avoiding the lottery. As of right now, we're sitting five points clear of the 26th place Florida Panthers after their 3-2 win over Chicago and our OT loss to the Islanders.
But for the sake of progress, how can we get it out of the Top 10? Can this team avoid that altogether and bump Boston down to the 11-15 hole? Potentially. But it's not likely. And not for entirely pessimistic reasons, either.
Glancing at the standings, where we currently stand at 22nd due to St. Louis being idle last night, Boston holds the 9th pick in the draft. We sit two points behind Columbus in 21st and three behind Carolina in 20th. Assuming we are able to vault over those teams, Boston holds the 11th pick. And that's as far as it goes. The reason for that is Buffalo, who is 8th in the East, sits in 19th. We beat them, that pick becomes at its highest 14th. So that eliminates 12 and 13 entirely.
So then we make it to the playoffs, and we play a top seed, likely one of Philly, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Washington, or Boston. They're good teams. Fantastic teams. Did good in the regular season and are top in the East for a reason.
Newsflash: I don't care.
They call it the post-season for a reason. The season doesn't matter anymore. This would no longer be that team that had a hellhole of a month earlier. This would be the 2011 PLAYOFF Toronto Maple Leafs. Last year Philly was a 7th seed, Montreal an 8th. Edmonton went almost all the way in 2006 as an 8th seed. It can be done. And the way this team has been winning close games and grinding out the ugly points when they have to, I feel that this team is one that can make such a run. I've seen bigger upsets than these Leafs knocking off Philly and I haven't hit my 20s yet.
What would it take to get there? The suggestion seems to be somewhere between 88-90 points. We get to 88 with 10 wins in our final 15 games. 11 gets us to 90. The focus needs to be on taking what we can get. If that means grinding out a close tie and getting a point just by making it to the extra frame, that's a start. Unfortunately, getting badly outshot by the Islanders isn't a good way to be going about a playoff run. Not that I'm an expert or anything.
I don't know what's gonna happen with this playoff run. Will James Reimer break down? Will Keith Aulie suddenly become an offensive monster? Will Phil Kessel fire it up and ride a hot streak to the end or will he spurt and die slowly? Can Mikhail Grabovski get back to being the Mikhail Grabovski who was carrying our team through that terrible month? I don't know. I do know that I'm cheering this team to go all the way. They're exciting to watch, and even if they don't make it, I'll be happy with the way things have turned out.
Let the games begin.