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NHL Playoff Picture

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Most team have about five or six games remaining. That makes every point incredibly important. Each game offers two points that could help you get in, gain a better seed, or even home ice in the playoffs. There is still a ton going on with the playoffs on the horizon.


Southeast Division Race

It is a shame the Lightning's defense could not stop me, and I have no skated since I was a kid. They have a fun offense to watch they just are not complete. Luckily Stamkos is only 23 so we have plenty of fun hockey to watch from him to come. 

The Capitals have been on fire lately. In their last 14 games they are 12-1-1. If you have not figured it out yet, the Caps go as Ovi goes. When he can get himself some the team gets theirs. That boasts a large problem in the playoffs but for the time being they have a four point lead on the Jets in the worst division in hockey. 

Caps close with @ Ottawa, @ Montreal, vs Winnipeg, vs Ottawa, vs Boston. 

Jets close with vs Carolina, vs NY Islanders, @ Buffalo, @ Washington, vs Montreal. 

The Jets led this division for most of the season. Obviously there is an asterisk because it is such a bad division. But the Jets were doomed from the beginning. In a season with extra games crammed into a shorter time frame the Jets had to travel from Winnipeg to play in the Southeast Division in the NHL. They never had a shot. In fact it is rather impressive they were atop this division for as long as they were. 

NY Islanders
NY Rangers

Tight race at the cutoff line in the East. Really Buffalo, New Jersey and Philadelphia could be thrown in as contenders for the last playoff spot as well but given their struggles it is less likely that one of them rattles off 5 straight wins to close the year to knock someone else out.

Right now the Senators sit one point ahead of the Islanders for for 6 seed with one game in hand. They have been perhaps the most impressive team this season. All year long they have battled big time injuries. They have had every reason to give up. Now they have Craig Anderson back whom was the obvious Vezina pick until he got injured. They have no quit in them and now they are getting healthier. I do not see them losing the six seed which makes them most likely draw the Capitals in round 1 stay tuned for a playoff preview and expect the Senators to be mentioned along with an opportunity to make big money this playoffs.

The Rangers sit in a tie for 8th with Winnipeg and are just one point behind the Islanders for the 7 seed and they have a game in hand on both. It that is not enough just look at how good Lundqvist is playing as of late. He has only allowed over 2 goals twice in the past month. They need him to be the best in the league to have a legit shot at the Cup this year because they are woefully poor at finding the back of the net. Regardless he is good enough to get them in and probably as the 7 seed.

The Islanders have the lead on the Rangers but after being shutout by them on Saturday may have earned them Pittsburgh in round one. They are quite an underrated team. They have a lot of young talent but they don't have any playoff experience. If they get in they should stumble into the 8 seed at best and have a quick series against the Penguins before heading home. 
I actually really like that Islanders team but I am really rooting for the Jets to grab that last spot. They deserve it. They played in the Southeast Division in a season where games are crammed into a shorter time frame. The fact that they are in it with all the extra travel is impressive and they deserve a shot in the playoffs this year.

Maybe the best case for Winnipeg is the fact that the Islanders close the year with 5 road games one of them being in Winnipeg. That game is this Saturday and it could determine the final playoff team in the East. I'm predicting the Jets get it done as the Islanders lack of experience does them in.

How they'll finish:



LA Kings
San Jose
St Louis

The top three in the West are all but locked in place the same can not be said about the other five seeds. Only six points separates the 4 seed Kings and the 9th place Blue Jackets. Anyone of these teams could realistically grab home ice in round 1 or lose home ice in round 1.

The Kings close out with games against everyone on this list except Detroit. Not exactly an easy finish. They have been rounding into playoff shape as of late but they have not been able to secure a top spot in the playoffs yet. After a slow start it took a while but Jonathan Quick looks like he is back to 100%. They absolutely have a shot to defend their title but I think they might hit a bump in the road over the next five. It seems unrealistic to think they will hold on to home ice in round one and maybe they are better off after last years run.

The Sharks have a similar closing schedule to the Kings but they get the pleasure of playing Phoenix instead of St Louis. I am impressed by the Sharks this year. I had high hopes for this team to start the season but around the trade deadline I thought for sure they were going to sell off most of their talent. Yet here they are with a shot to get home ice in the first round. Most likely it is going to come down to their final game of the year in Los Angeles.

The Wild might be flying under the radar just enough to steal that 4 seed. They have a favorable schedule to get the job done. They have the Kings and Sharks on the schedule so they can directly improve their whiff spot by beating them and the other three are Edm, Calg and Col. Their defense is playing as well as anyone and with that schedule they might be the team to beat for the 4 slot.

Speaking of defense and a nice schedule, the Blues are straight killing it of late. They have the hottest goalie and defensive unit in the NHL right now and close with Phoenix, Dallas, home and home with Colorado, Calgary and Chicago in a game they will probably rest everyone. The Blues are just three points back of the Kings and Sharks for that 4 seed and home ice in round one. With a schedule like that and playing as well as they have been, they should, not could, win this battle for the four.

That leaves Detroit, Columbus, and Dallas. It is possible that they jump way up but in all likelihood this is the battle for the 8 seed. Dallas has been hot recently but ultimately has disappointed once again this year. They were sellers at the trade deadline and now maybe they regret it cause they would have a shot to get in, but I can't see them maintaining their play at such a high level to finish out. Columbus might have the Vezina trophy winner this year. Sergei Bobrovski has been just fantastic for them. He is the real reason they are even in the hunt. The problem with them is that they have played one more game than Detroit whom has looked nothing like their past teams this year. They have basically skated by on the fact that they have three studs even though they do not have much else. Nobody has missed Nick Lidstrom more than Jimmy Howard. Howard may have been the best goalie in the league a few years ago, now while still being an upper echelon goaltender, he is struggling to keep the puck out of the net. They just are not a complete enough team to make any noise this year. But Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Howard, the experience, and a game in hand are just too much for the upstart Blue Jackets this year.

How they'll finish:

4. St Louis
5. San Jose
6. Minnesota
7. LA Kings
8. Detroit

Wednesday, April 16, 2013


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