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January 17, 2019
Trumps Never Quit
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
Huge win for the Trumps. They’re trying to chase down the Habs for the eighth playoff spot in the Wales Conference, so a regulation loss would have seen them fall seven points back with seven games to play. The shootout triumph allowed them to pick up a point, cutting Montreal’s lead to four. And Lydman’s unexpected heroics didn’t go unnoticed. Don Jr. comped him a room at the Super Eight.
Buffalo has rattled off three wins in a row, stampeding past Florida, Toronto, and Montreal to keep its dim playoff hopes alive. The Trumps have potted 14 goals during the hot streak. Tim Connolly has led the way, snapping out of a seven-game goal-less streak to ring up four goals and six points in the three wins. Now you see why The Donald gave him $9 million over two years? Yeah, me neither.
Connolly has had to step up, because Derek Roy and Tomas Vanek have gone AWOL. Roy, Buffalo’s leading scorer with 65 points, has two goals and two assists over his last 10. But don’t worry, he’s made up for it with a minus-10. Egad. And Vanek has just three goals in 12 games since returning from a broken jaw.
Ryan Miller has won both of his starts since recovering from his high ankle sprain, stopping 65 of 71 shots (.915 SV%). He was at his best during the shootout in Montreal. He stoned Alexei Kovalev, Alex Tanguay, Saku Koivu, Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec, and Maxim Lapierre. Miller was awesome. Guy Lafleur and Jean Beliveau almost took a turn but thought better of it.
If Miller can sustain that level of excellence, the Trumps may have a chance. But I doubt it. Their schedule ain’t no boat ride. They go to Atlanta and Washington, then it’s home for games with New Jersey and Detroit before heading back to the road to face Toronto and Carolina. They close out with Boston at home. And those Washington and New Jersey contests are back-to-back. Hard to get happy after that one.
This time of year, there’s no such thing as a sure win. Anything can happen. So even though the Trumps would be decided underdogs against the Caps, Devils, Wings, Canes, and Bruins, they might be able to steal two of those, especially if the Bears are resting people in the season finale.
But if the Trumps go 4-3 down the stretch, they’d finish with 90 points. That means Montreal would just need five of a possible 14 points to stay clear, and the Habs still have the Islanders, Leafs, and Sens on the schedule. They close with Pittsburgh at home, and chances are Kid Crosby, Geno Malkin, and Marc-Andre Fleury will all probably be sitting that one out. If Montreal can’t beat Mathieu Garon on home ice with the playoffs at stake, it might be time to reconsider this whole hockey-as-a-career thing.
Of course, even if the Canadiens manage to hang on and weasel into the postseason, they’re going to be one and done. They’ll likely be swept in three games.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Montreal went winless the rest of the way. But if they do, it would be the Panthers, and not the Trumps, who claim that eighth seed.
Florida sits in ninth place, just one point back of Montreal, although the Cats have only six left on the slate. The Panthers haven’t exactly stepped up their game, going 3-4-3 over the last 10. Seriously, do they have to take eight teams?
The Rangers haven’t exactly nailed down their playoff berth, either. The Blueshirts are in seventh place by one measly point over Montreal, and they’ve played one more game than the Habs. Henrik Lundqvist and the boys have the Devils at home, Carolina and Boston on the road, then it’s back home for Montreal before ending the season with a home-and-home with the Flyers. That’s looking an awful lot like a 1-5-0 finish, maybe 2-4-0 tops. Circle that April 7th game at MSG with the Canadiens. That should tell the tale.
Carolina and Pittsburgh appear safe with 91 and 90 points, respectively. Both have gone 7-1-2 over the last 10 to leave the slackers behind.
Ironically, of the four clubs battling it out for the final two spots, I’d say Buffalo is the best team, but the Trumps are likely to fall short. Simply too much ground to make up. And they don’t have any games left with the teams they’re chasing. Although, I hear The Donald is thinking of bringing in Tom Green, Scott Hamilton, and Dennis Rodman for one final push.
And don’t forget to watch “Celebrity Apprentice” Sundays at 9PM EST on NBC.
AND VOTE FEY FOR LAND OF THE FOX!