As exciting a quote about the Oilers entry into the playoffs tonight as I can get. That's right: Edmonton beat the Mighty Ducks of Los Angeles Anaheim 2-1 Thursday night to keep the playoff dream alive...for another 90 minutes until San Jose and the Pussycats buried the Vancouver Canucks and put them out of their misery.

And really how else can you describe it? The Oilers record in the month of March was 5-5-4, and 3-3-1 so far in April (excluding the big win on Thursday they were 2-3-1). The Vancouver Canucks? They were 6-7-2 throughout March, and so far including the 5-3 defeat to San Jose are 1-4-1 in April. So yes, that's the best spin to place on it. The Edmonton Oilers, a choking unemotional uncompetitive team of embarrassment has made it into the playoffs beating out a choking unemotional uncompetitive team of even greater embarrassment. Remember that this was Vancouver's year! (To be fair, I heard it about the Oilers earlier in the season too. And we're used to hearing this about Vancouver.)

Compare this with San Jose, now 5th in the west. Their March record was 8-5-2 and 7-0-1 in April. The Mighty Ducks went 11-4-1 in March and 4-3-0 in April. I mean, Boston went 4-9-3 in March and they're considered a massive embarrasment. Toronto, also in a playoff fight, has gone 12-6-3 since March 1st (5-0-2 in April). We're far better from Toronto.

Speaking of which, let's look at the most overrated team in the league. If you're having trouble following along, visit this post to catch up -ed] Toronto currently has 86 points with 3 games remaining for a total potential points of 92, which is already a point short of what Edmonton needed to clinch. Its highly unlikely that Tampa Bay and Atlanta will sit still for the next 3 games they have left and let Toronto shoot past them. Naturally, we recall that the West is a much harder conference than the East, and suddenly Toronto looks very very weak.

But I'm still distraught. I needed Toronto to lose far faster than they have. Specifically, I'm very upset that Vancouver beat out Toronto for the title of First Canadian NHL team to fail to make the Playoffs. This was a proud banner I strongly hoped that the Make-Me-Laughs would seize with pride. Of course, this was back when it looked like Vancouver and Edmonton would both make the postseason. That dream died about 10 days ago, and was put out of its misery when San Jose took Vancouver to OT on Wednesday. So now I have one remaining dream: the crushing defeat of Toronto in their playoff drive. It's remarkably easy to do, actually. The best side-effect? Getting Sportsnet.ca to stop having the Leafs playoff hopes as the top article on their website every goddamned day! I mean seriously. The Edmonton Oilers actually secured a playoff berth. The Vancouver Canucks are the First Canadian NHL team to fail to make the Playoffs. Calgary clinched the Northwest Division title while Edmonton's Dion Phaneuf scored his 20th goal in his rookie season, putting him in an elite category of NHL defensemen (how elite? Only Barry Beck and Brian Leetch have done it before him...Leetch with 23 setting a record its too late for Phaneuf to beat). But the freaking Maple Leafs remain the top story at Sportsnet.ca. All three major hockey networks websites (CBC.ca, TSN.ca, and SportsNet.ca) have lead stories about Toronto's efforts at the playoffs...at least TSN and CBC bother to mention the team with the best English language television numbers losing to San Jose last night. The Toronto-centric media is really comical at times.

So getting back to my earlier point, how easy is it for the Leafs to not make the playoffs? Well, right now Atlanta and Tampa are ahead of them for the final playoff spot:

6. New Jersey - 2 GR - 97 pts. (tied with Philadelphia,3GR)
7. Montreal - 2 GR - 93 pts.
8. Tampa Bay - 3 GR - 89 pts.
9. Atlanta - 3 GR - 87 pts.
10. Toronto - 3 GR - 86 pts.
11. Florida - 2 GR - 82 pts.
Now remember that Toronto can't beat Montreal at this point, so for Toronto purposes our Montreal calculations are irrelevent. Tarawna's last 3 games are against Ottawa, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh which means the Maple Leafs will get points or not get points with no impact on other contending teams. So it all comes back to Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Atlanta's last three games are Boston/Washington/Florida, again Atlanta's points are linear, as we would say in mathematics. And so is Tampa Bay! They play Carolina twice and then Washington.

Lets break this down on a scenario by scenario basis. First bear in mind that if Tampa Bay wins all 3 games (or wins two and ties the third), then the Maple Leafs are out regardless of any other factors: Tampa will have 94/95 points and will be in 7th or 8th depending on Montreal's record.

If Tampa Bay wins 2 out of 3, Toronto is out. If Tampa Bay wins one and ties the another one Toronto is again out of the playoffs: Tampa Bay will have 92 points which Toronto can only tie, but will have 43 or 44 wins: Toronto can only get 42, and again Toronto is out.

If Tampa wins 1 out of 3, then Toronto can beat them by winning all three. But that requires Atlanta to not win all three of their games and beat Toronto in points (if Atlanta only wins 2 and Toronto wins 3, Toronto passes them in wins. If Toronto ties Atlanta in wins they win the season series). Now's when things get interesting.

If Tampa loses all three of their remaining games it duplicates the Edmonton experience: ChokeFest 2006. Then we get into how they lose them...
If Tampa gets three ties it puts them at 92 points, back into "Toronto must win 3 games to win" territory.
If Tampa only ties 2 games and is at 91 points, Atlanta must win two or less and not tie in the third game or else Atlanta is at 92 points and Toronto must win all three.
If Tampa ties 1 game and loses the other two, it is at 90 points. Now Toronto must merely make 91 points: you know, two wins and a tie. If they do this, Atlanta simply has to not win all 3 games (or win two and tie one) and Toronto is good.
If Tampa loses all three games, then their 89 points is the benchmark. If Toronto can make 90 points (two wins, or a win and two ties) they bump Tampa out and then have to have Atlanta do no better than match their 90 (three ties, or 1 win and 1 tie or better).

Wow, so even if Tampa loses all three games (including one to the Capitals) Toronto still needs at least 4 points. Yeah, that justifies all the ink spilled at SportsNet.ca [and this website... -ed]