Another week is in the books and with that, we will look at the updated standings in the Southeast Division:
Remember, we are looking at wins, possession stats, each team's expected win total based on their goals for/against totals and their current point pace. See last week's post for more information on that.
The race for the top in the Southeast Division looks slightly clearer now. What was once a four team race has dwindled down to three teams with the Tampa Bay Lightning losing all three of their games last week and earning only one point. The playoffs looked like a longshot for them with the way their team has played, but they were only three points out a week ago. This slight losing streak they've been on has them seven points out now, which shows how small the margin of error is this late in the season.
It appears that Florida, Washington and Winnipeg are going to be the main contenders now and Washington has really closed the gap on Florida now. They did themselves a huge favor by winning three of their four games this week and earning points in all of them. The Caps have also seen their possession metrics improve and still have the best goal differential in the Southeast. This strong week puts them within one point of Florida, who earned three points in three games and still have a lead on the division. The four shootout wins and 13 OTL points has helped them a bit in that department, though. It is worth noting that the Panthers are missing a key player in Kris Versteeg and once he gets healthy, they could start to pull away but they are going to need to accumulate as many points as they can with Washington right on their tail. What could make or break Washington is the next couple of weeks where they have a five-game road trip featuring games in Winnipeg, Chicago, Detroit and Philadelphia. They need to earn points in the majority of those games to stay in the mix.
Winnipeg is in the mix despite being four points behind but they've seen their possession stats take a tip the last couple of weeks. They are still a borderline positive team when the game is close, but they are getting hammered in corsi, which probably means that they block a lot of shots. The theme for the Jets this year is they have been great at home and are struggling on the road, and that was the case this past week. They defeated Buffalo at the MTS Centre and lost to Vancouver and Calgary on the road. Winnipeg has three home games coming up this week, but only two more after that so they are going to need to make those games at the MTS Centre count and dramatically improve their play on the road. I still think that they are good enough to possibly make the playoffs as the #8 seed or even make a run at the division if Washington or Florida begin to slip up.