Updated as of 11:20 PM on Thursday, March 24
Magic Number over each team with 9 left to play:
Pittsburgh (8 left): 12
Washington (8 left): 14
Boston (9 left): 14
What this means is if we get six wins in 9 games and Pitt wins out we win the division. 7 wins to clinch the conference regardless of what the other three teams do.
Updated as of 6:00 PM on Wednesday, March 23:
Magic Number over each team:
The term "Magic Number" is defined as:
In certain sports, a magic number is a number used to indicate how close a front-running team is to clinching a season title. It represents the total of additional wins by the front-running team or additional losses (or any combination thereof) by the rival team after which it is mathematically impossible for the rival team to capture the title in the remaining games.
In hockey it is slightly different because of the point system, not just the wins and losses. So our magic numbers will revolve around points. The calculation is the opposition's current points + their points available (10 games left is 20 points available) - our total points.
Our Magic # for clinching the Atlantic Division: Pittsburgh: 14
Our Magic # for clinching the Easter Confrence:
Washington: 16 (Their MN over TB for the SE division is 15)
Boston: 14 (Their MN over MON for the NE division is 16)
What to watch this week:
Monday: Pittsburgh @ Detroit
Tuesday: Washington @ Philly
Thursday: Montreal @ Boston, Pittsburgh @ Philly
Friday: New Jersey @ Pittsburgh, Washington @ Ottawa
Saturday: New York Rangers @ Boston, Washington @ Montreal, Philly @ Islanders
Sunday: Florida @ Pittsburgh, Boston @ Philly
What does it all mean for our chances and what kind of pace do we need to keep up in order to win the division and the conference?
Pit: After their loss to the Rangers, they have 10 games left and we have 11, leaving 21 total games for us to pick up or them to leave 14 points (hence the magic number). This week we play 4 games and they play 3, totaling 7. That means that in order to keep up pace we need to gain 33% (7 of 21 total games left, 7/21=.33 games played this week) of the magic number, 4.66 points. If we beat Pittsburgh this week and lose all of our other games and they win all of their other games, our magic number drops 4 points. Winning the division is the most important thing, way more important than the conference. First off, it guarantees us home ice in the first round. More importantly it essentially (but not mathematically) guaruntees that we don't play a top 6 team (us, Boston, Montreal, Pittsburgh, Tampa, Washington). We will most likely wind up with Carolina, New York Rangers, or Buffalo. If NJ stays this hot and they make it in to the 8, they are our biggest threat. I'm rooting against them, but I still think we handle them in less than 6 games if we do catch them. I also think the division clinch is symbolic of the best team in our conference. In each of the past 3 years the Atlantic has represented the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup. The power lies in the East until it is taken away, and letting the Pens catch us without Crosby gives them a huge mental advantage considering we havn't beat Crosby's Penguins in either of our two chances.
Was: They have 9 left, we have 11, totaling 20. They have 2 games this week, we have 4, totaling 6. That is (6/20) 30% of the schedule which translates to us needing to get 30% of the 16 points (4.8) that are our magic number to keep pace.
Bos: They have 11 left, we have 11, totaling 22. They have 2 games this week, we have 4, totaling 6. (6/22)*14=3.8 points to keep pace with them.
Winning the conference does a few things, some obvious, some not. Obvious first: home ice. The Flyers lost 2 home games in last years playoffs: game 3 vs. Boston and the last game of our season. We are an amazing home team. Not so obvious: The Caps stink in the playoffs. If the Rangers get the 7 seed that match-up has upset potential, leaving us with the Rags in the second round, a team we should handle. There are plenty other subtle advantages of coming in first in the East and I'm sure you guys can brainstorm all of those below.
***I'm going to try to update the Magic Numbers atop the page after every time the Bruins, Caps, Pens, or Flyers play