Monday, May 10, 2021

Weekend rankings: Predators clinch, McDavid shines, Tortorella exits and Dolan Dolans

We’re 20 weekends into the season, and here’s where we’re at. The regular season is over for several teams, with the Penguins, Rangers, Sabres, Coyotes, Wings, Ducks and Blue Jackets all crossing the finish line of Saturday. The Stars, Hawks, Devils, Flyers, Hurricanes, Predators, Islanders, Lightning and Panthers will all join them tonight. We’re a couple of days away from the vast majority of the league being done. But the season still has well over a week to go, because the Canucks’ schedule drags until next Wednesday. But the playoffs will start before that, except in the North Division, we think, but maybe not, and the league hasn’t actually told us when the postseason will start yet, although their TV partner maybe did.

Makes sense? Sure it does.

Look, it’s been a weird season and we all knew what we were signing up for. Let’s focus on the positive, as the playoff picture comes into focus. The big news is that the last Central spot is settled, with Nashville taking care of business over the weekend to lock down a berth that seemed unlikely even a few weeks ago. They’ll face the Hurricanes in round one.

We know that we’re getting that Battle of Florida matchup that we were all hoping for, and the two teams served up a preview on Saturday that has some genuine nastiness on the way to a 5-1 Panthers win. They’ll meet again tonight in both teams’ season finales, meaning we could get nine straight Panther/Lightning games by the time this is done.

In the East, we know it’s Penguins first and Capitals second, meaning we’ll have to wait for round two to get the next chapter of Crosby vs. Ovechkin. We’re not sure who’ll play who yet, as the Bruins and Islanders have to sort out who’ll finish third. The West still has the top three seeds up for grabs, and will be the last division to finish its schedule.

In the North, the Leafs are locked in at number one but we don’t know for sure that they’ll get the dream matchup with the Habs, although it’s looking a little more likely thanks to Montreal dropping three straight in regulation to close the week. Update with whether Calgary stayed alive.

And finally, about the dramatic Connor McDavid chase for 100 points… yeah, never mind. He’s apparently not big into suspense, hitting the mark on Saturday with several games to spare.

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Good luck to whichever contenders have to try to stop that guy in the playoffs. Oh hey, speaking of which…

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