Three weeks ago I had written off the season, and was hoping we wouldn't sink too far and give Anaheim a lottery pick (BTW, Buffalo's rotating GMs are looking like geniuses right now with the top two picks in the league as it currently sits), but I am now going to call it: this team will play in May. I think it was that Flyers game-they just stopped looking so uncoordinated and lost out there, the pucks are getting out of the defensive zone, the gap control has improved, the battles have improved, the shots for have remained high and the shots-against have dropped like a rock, and most importantly, they look like they care. And are avoiding giving up too many 2-0 starts. They stuck in there with the Kings and played them well. We lost, but we played a solid game besides the 2 goals on four shots. Same thing with the Blues, except bounces went our way-and the St. Louis staff was claiming that they played one of their best periods in the second of that game and we stuck with them. This team is turning into the team we thought we had in September, and thankfully is still in the hunt.
The second half of this is how bad the East is. It is horrible this season, the play is poor and sloppy and we are getting owned by the West. Even though we are looking better, we should be done with the start we have had, but there are just so many bad teams in our conference, and some are ahead of us in the standings (Toronto, Tampa etc.) that are due for a regress to the mean. We shouldn't be three points out of a wild-card spot, we should eight or more, but the conference is bad enough that with even our horrible play this year we are still right in the mix.
Ottawa is going to the playoffs. I'm not sure we deserve it, but a combination of finding form and the rest of the conference stinking up this half of the continent makes it very, very likely.