New Poll: Which Eastern team has the best chance of making the playoffs?

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Today's new poll features six Eastern conference teams that are currently on the outside looking in. Most if not all of them are still clinging on to playoff hopes a little more than halfway through the season, but which team will make it in? Tell us what you think here!

Of course, not all of them can make the post season. And with at least 5 or 6 other teams all but locks to make the playoffs, that only leaves a spot or two for the six teams listed. Will it be:

9. The Philadelphia Flyers - 47 points in 44 games, 22-19-3.

The Flyers went through a stretch of games that had most people thinking they were going to be a lottery team. A fired coach, locker room troubles, inability to score goals OR play defense, a real lack of depth in goal... well, they seem to have turned things around lately, with a 7-2-1 record in their last 10, and a hot goaltender in Michael Leighton that no one ever saw coming. Can they keep it up? A lot of Flyers fans probably don't want them too. Nevertheless, they may represent the East's best chance amongst teams 9 to 15.

10. The New York Islanders - 46 points in 46 games, 19-19-8.

The Islanders are currently at a point per game pace and have been over .500 in their last 10. While they don't really have any superstar forward, no player at a point per game pace, they have 6 players with 20 or more points and three with 10 goals or more. You have to admit that they're playing over the expactations of many people are with some good goaltending from returning Rick Dipietro (not to mention the very underrated Dwayne Roloson), they just might be able to squeak into the playoffs, but they're going to need to score more goals (118GF, 144GA).

11. The Atlanta Thrashers - 44 points in 44 games, 19-19-6.

The Thrashers started the season at a furious pace, holding 5th place in the east for a while, even without star forward Ilya Kovalchuk, who missed 6 games earlier in the year. Since them, however, they have dropped off pretty quickly, holding a 1-6-3 record in their last 10 games. Average goaltending and somewhat of a lack of depth may be to blame, but all they need is for a goaltender to get hot, a Kovalchuk or Afinogenov to get back on a hot streak and they could be back on their way to only the second playoff berth in their existence (and Lord knows that franchise needs it).

12. The Florida Panthers - 43 points in 45 games, 18-20-7.

The competition gets a little thin at this point. Even though I believe the Panthers are slightly underrated, the odds of them making the playoffs are admittedly thin. They are a team destined to always miss the playoffs by only a few points, but they're fighters, even with a thin line-up and no real Grade-A prospects or young players to put them over the top. Still, Nathan Horton is almost at a point-per-game pace, and forwards Nathan Weiss, Steve Reinpreicht and Michael Frolik are getting the job done, among others.

13. The Tampa Bay Lightning - 42 points in 43 games, 16-17-10.

Despite being in 13th place, the Bolts have several distinct advantaged when it comes to the home stretch. For starters, they have played less games than most of the players ahead of them. Secondly, they have several players who have gone the whole way before, including Vinnie Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Alex Tanguay and others, not to mention exciting young players such as Steve Stamkos and Viktor Hedman. Their experience may give them the push they need to get into the playoffs.

14. The Toronto Maple Leafs - 39 points in 46 games, 15-22-9.

Come on, who are we kidding. But hey, Brian Burke said they'd make the playoffs, and so did Bob Mackenzie and other "insiders", so they MUST still have a chance! ;)

Omitted from the list was the Caroline Hurricanes. With only 31 points in 43 games, there wasn't really a reason to keep them on the list.

Nevertheless, leave us your comments and your votes at this link.


Last poll's results: Which World Junior Player Will Have The Best Career?

While the results may have been obvious to some, it was actually closer that a lot would have expected. Jordan Eberle won the vote with 42% of the vote, after his heroics in the Gold medal game for Team Canada, but teammate Taylor Hall was close behind with 27% of the vote, followed by Alex Pietrangelo with 15%.

Although I tried to make a case for Team USA's John Carlson, he only managed to muster 6% of the vote (along with 17 year old Nino Niederreiter of Switzerland).

Bringing up the rear were was the tournaments leading scorer Derek Stepan from Team USA (3%) and Sweden's Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson who didn't receive a single vote.

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