Whale Still with Reasonable Shot at Postseason

whale stick

The Whale continue to fail to make things easy on themselves, but, crazy as it sounds after an 0-4-1-0 swoon, they are still hardly out of the playoff picture.

Manchester and Hershey both won last night, but Norfolk lost, taking a 6-1 pasting at the hands of the Crunch in Syracuse, which, combined with the Whale’s 3-2 defeat at Albany, created a four-team logjam at 79 points.

Only two of the four teams at 79 can get in, and the Whale are at a disadvantage in that they have only tonight’s game in Portland left, whereas the other three teams all have two games.  Plus, Manchester and Hershey play each other tomorrow, so one of those two teams is guaranteed to have 81 points.  If the Whale win tonight and don’t need a shootout to do it, they would have 81 points and 34 non-shootout wins, which would guarantee them the tiebreaker over Hershey (they already have the tiebreaker on Norfolk, which cannot catch the Whale in non-shootout wins) and would give them the tiebreaker on Manchester if the Monarchs lose both of their games. 

Of course it’s all academic if two of the other three end up with more points than Connecticut, but the Whale could conceivably lose tonight and still get in.  If Norfolk and Hershey lose both of their games in regulation, Manchester would take seventh and, with the Whale, Admirals and Bears all still tied at 79 points, the Whale would take the eighth spot by virtue of having the most non-shootout wins of the three tied teams.

That’s a lot of ifs, but one sure thing is that the Whale need to show more urgency than they did in last night’s loss in Albany, or even if they do find their way into the postseason, it will be a short stay.  The Whale were outshot 35-23 in the game, including 13-6 in the decisive third period, by an Albany team that is out of playoff contention, and even though Connecticut led twice in the game, both times they allowed the Devils to come back and tie the game shortly after the Whale had gone ahead. 

The margin between success and failure is thin this time of year, and all five losses in this drought have been one-goal games (plus one empty-net goal), so it’s not like the Whale have been mailing it in and getting blown out, but the extra effort that led them to wins in eight of their previous ten needs to come back to the forefront in a big hurry.  Otherwise it is going to be a long offseason of pondering what might have been.