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We’re rapidly approaching the end of the season, with less than 15 games left now. And the race is still on. Boston has a three-point cushion and a game in hand over the Rangers for the last spot in the East, Detroit just has three points over Calgary out West, and thanks to an embarrassing blowout loss in Dallas by San Jose, Chicago is just one win away from the top dog in the West. And the more time goes by, the more it looks like Buffalo will take the division. And the Devils are once more one win away from retaking the division. So much on the line with so little time left, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Tuesday, March 16 at 11:30pm:
With an 8-2 loss to Dallas, San Jose has lost three in a row, while Detroit has won three in a row. Detroit won the season series 3-0-1, only losing one of the two shootouts (both in Detroit) and winning both games in San Jose. Looking at the stats, you’d think the Sharks have the advantage, but looking at the momentum, San Jose doesn’t seem to like the first round.
Chicago won the season series 4-2-0, interestingly enough with all six games coming in 2009. But Chicago has lost their last two, while the Predators have won three. Still, the Blackhawks did well against the Capitals, if they can keep it together for the whole game, they’ll go far. They should beat the Predators anyway.
Vancouver’s continuing to make a strong post-Olympic push, now playing home games for a change. The Kings have slipped back to #6 in the time being, but still have the tools needed to make this series interesting. But having to be the first to win four may be a bit much. When you consider Vancouver has 25 home wins, one away from the league’s best, Vancouver should be a major player come playoffs.
Congratulations, Avs, you won in St. Louis to move into #5. The bad news is you now have to face a Coyotes team that has won their last six. And they’re only five points behind the Sharks now. That’s a lot for the Avalanche to face. The home team’s potent offense has held sway in all three games so far, and that confirms Phoenix’s momentum as of late.
The Capitals have won 4-1 in Boston twice this year. Two meetings in Washington will come in April. The Bruins looked pretty good against Carolina, but that hasn’t been too hard to do this season. In the wake of an injury-riddled season, the Bruins need consistency above all else, and Tim Thomas getting pulled after giving up three goals in the first 20 minutes against New Jersey isn’t the way to do it; (that makes five times this year that’s happened). Washington will bask in an easy victory.
Despite the point difference, these teams have similar stats this year…except for Philly’s losing road record and 1-4-0 record against Pittsburgh so far. Basically, Pittsburgh has the easy victory here. After all, Matt Cooke has been given carte blanche to do whatever he wants. The last person to get away with that much was O.J.
How about Montreal, winning their last six? That might be enough to get them past their deficiency against Buffalo they’ve seen so far. Montreal scores more, but gives up more as well, and has the same number of wins as Buffalo. In fact, the only game not decided by one goal between these two this season was a 6-2 Sabres win in Buffalo. Odds are at least one upset will occur, and look for Vegas to make this match it.
Ottawa has lost their last three, including at home against Toronto. Not their best stretch of the season. At least the only shutout of the season series was Ottawa’s only (3-0) victory. Ottawa’s record since the Olympics is 1-5-1, including a second (shootout) loss to Toronto, also at home. No way the Senators are getting past Martin Brodeur four times.
Tags: Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, NHL Playoffs, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals