The Chess Match Ahead in the East – Japers’ Rink


With just a handful of games remaining in the 2021 regular season, the MassMutual East Division is still very much up for grabs, with four teams separated by five points (a number that drops to two points if everyone wins their games in hand on first-place Pittsburgh).

The Division boasts four of the Leagues top eleven teams in terms of points percentage, and its unlikely that anyone has a clear edge in the upcoming two-round divisional playoff. The Capitals, for example, went 6-2-0 on the season against the Islanders, who have gone 5-2-0 against the Bruins, who posted a 5-3-0 record against the Penguins... who were 6-2-0 against the Caps.

By head-to-head results from the regular season, insofar as that matters, each team has one or more concerning match-up and at least one in which theyve fared well.

Of course, come playoff time every match-up is concerning, and those regular season wins along with four dollars will get you a latte at Starbucks. Weve talked a lot in the past about how the playoffs are a different animal, not because the competition is better (though it is) or because the players elevate their game (though they might), but because the amount of time coaching staffs can spend focused on their opponent is so drastically different (especially this year, given the condensed regular-season schedule).

And if youre a fan of the game-within-the-game that takes place between two head coaches, this years playoffs in the East should be a doozy. Lets take a look at the four bench bosses:

Those are some seriously impressive resume. Together, these gentlemen represent one-third of the Jack Adams trophies that have been awarded to active coaches, one-third of the Cup wins, and four of the 11 Presidents Trophies, and theyre not exactly resting on their laurels - heres a look at up-to-the-minute Elo ratings for NHL coaches (explainer here):

And in two weeks, the chess matches will begin. Adjustments and counter-adjustments will be made. Difficult roster decisions will be pored over. Referees will be worked, players will be motivated, media will be placated (or not), and so on. These are four of the best coaches in the business, and theyre about to prove it.

See more here:

The Chess Match Ahead in the East - Japers' Rink

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