|Date with Destiny: Celtics Set to Face Lebron, Cavs in Return to Playoffs||2015 NBA Playoffs Expert Picks: First Round||Will the Real Clay Buchholz Please Stand Up?||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Day Weekend!|
Barely more than 10 games and just under a month remain in the season. It’s still close for many teams looking to get a better seed or just get into the playoffs in the first place. Even the top of the standings is in a state of uncertainty that hasn’t been present there for some time. With so much going on and so much sure to change, let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, March 19 at 8:00pm:
Phoenix is back in the game, but St Louis just doesn’t leave points on the table. The Blues are working on three straight wins and a nine-game point streak. Their combination of offense and defense makes St Louis a definite contender.
The Avalanche have been relentlessly keeping the pressure on Chicago, and now Chicago is behind based on non-shootout win total. Chicago’s offense hasn’t been giving them a big lead in many recent games. With Chicago steadily fading, they’ll need to pick things up in a hurry to get past Colorado, much less retain their title.
Minnesota is a solid first Wildcard at the moment, while Anaheim is letting their Pacific lead slip away. Other than two good road wins in Colorado and LA, it’s been a rough few weeks for Anaheim, having lost each of four home games since March 5. Each team has won in the other’s rink in the season series, but Anaheim still has a massive lead on Minnesota, and has scored 49 more goals.
The Sharks have soared right up the Pacific standings, tying Anaheim at 97 points with a game out of hand. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is on another losing streak, this one at three games so far. This is not a good time for Los Angeles to work out their kinks, and San Jose will certainly take advantage.
Columbus is doing well, but too much energy is being spent just clinging to their spot. Meanwhile, Boston has won 10 straight, eight of them by multiple goals. Boston has matched St Louis in goal differential (+74) and is five points ahead of Pittsburgh. After letting the Stanley Cup slip away, Boston is playing like a team with a vengeance right now.
Tampa has won three straight and gained points from five straight games to push back up to #3. Montreal, after a three-game skid, has now won three in a row themselves. In the three games of the season series so far, the road team has won 2-1 in at least overtime each game, which is good for Tampa. Carey Price is now back for Montreal, but is a bit rusty. Steven Stamkos has been back for Tampa since March 6, but other than two each of goals and assists, is doing a lot of shooting but not breaking through.The Atlantic Division, underneath Boston, is so tight, so anything can happen, but a better Carey Price would still be a good boon for Montreal.
Pittsburgh has had a few minor bumps, but will still easily win their division. Toronto is slipping again, has already played 70 games and is losing time fast. Toronto still has a pesky issue in allowing too many goals too often, which should present issues against a potent Penguins team.
The Flyers have been heading in the right direction, while the Rangers have been treading water. Not only has Philly leapfrogged the Rangers, but they have also played two fewer games. The home team has also won all three games in the season series so far. Both sides are close, but Philadelphia does have momentum going for them.
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs