As far as the Eastern Conference, there’s a pretty good idea of how the top half of the standings are going to shape up.
The Peterborough Petes have a comfortable lead atop the conference, the Mississauga Steelheads have already clinched the Central Division and the number two spot at least with two weeks left in the regular season.
Meanwhile, the Oshawa Generals look to be a lock for third place while the Hamilton Bulldogs and Kingston Frontenacs are tied in their battle for the number four spot and neither of them can do any worse than fifth.
The real battle now will be for the last three playoff spots, with four teams still left in contention.
The Ottawa 67’s have a single-point lead over the Sudbury Wolves for sixth place. Further down the board, the Niagara IceDogs are a point behind Sudbury and the North Bay Battalion are two points behind Niagara for the final spot.
While a lot of these teams have struggled through various parts of 2017, they’ll all be putting their best foot forward in pursuit of the highest spot possible.
The sixth seed would most likely set up a playoff matchup against the Generals, who are still a strong team, but are slightly weaker after trading away Anthony Cirelli and Mitch Vande Sompel in January.
The top five spots have been secured and we can only hope that the teams who still need to clinch a spot push, rather than stall, to the finish.
Ottawa, Sudbury, Niagara and North Bay all have records well below .500 and goal differentials below -50.
Even though the 67’s have won back-to-back games to take over the number six spot, they’ve allowed 256 goals against through 62 games.
Only the Barrie Colts and Guelph Storm, who sit in last place in the East and West respectively, have allowed more.
Ottawa lost seven games in a row earlier this year, Niagara lost six straight and North Bay and Sudbury are currently on four-game skids. Granted, two of the Battalion’s losses have come after regulation.
Entering the final two weeks of the season, Ottawa appears to have the toughest schedule with two games against Peterborough, Oshawa and Hamilton.
Niagara has a tough slate as well with two games against Mississauga, as well as games against the Bulldogs, Wolves, Battalion and Owen Sound Attack.
Sudbury and North Bay will have the benefit of being able to face each other three times over their next six games in an effort to earn some valuable points.
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