|Connelly’s Top Ten: Down Draft||Mike Napoli Should be on the Trade Block||NHL Draft Day Dust has Settled, Now the Bruins Need a Winger||Day One of Draft Shows Major Changes for Bruins|
The season ends Sunday, but a lot is still on the line. Despite seven Western slots being locked up, neither Western division has a winner. The top and low seeds in the conference are still very much up for grabs. In the East, the Bruins have the conference easily locked up, and are on the fast track to taking home the President’s Trophy. That locks Pittsburgh in as the second seed in the East. Some breathing room has developed for the East’s Wildcard teams, but neither one has clinched yet. Still, the playoff picture is starting to come into play, so let’s look at what would happen if the playoffs started as of Wednesday, April 9, before the day’s games:
St Louis has lost three games (12-3 combined deficit) in a row at a bad time, and it’s jeopardizing their shot at the West’s top seed, but their spot at the head of the division. Dallas has two points over Phoenix with three games remaining, in the midst of an up-and-down April. The Stars already won twice in St Louis in March, so they could be in store for an upset if they don’t shape up in a hurry.
The Blackhawks have won their last three, but the last couple of weeks have been streaky one way or the other. Colorado has gotten points in eight straight games, winning seven. The Blackhawks will be difficult, but they’ll need to find a way to keep their winning streak alive in order to get close to defending their title.
A six-game point streak (five wins) have officially locked Minnesota into the first Wildcard. That gives them plenty of time to rest and finagle their roster for the playoffs, while the Ducks haven’t even played a playoff team since March 20 (a loss in San Jose). Still, Anaheim is alive for the Conference title, and Minnesota will have to lower Anaheim’s average goals per game by a good amount to prevail.
So-so hockey is quickly bringing San Jose‘s divisional hopes down to Earth, while the Kings have lost three of four, though all three losses have been by one goal. Then again, their last three losses were all one-goal games too. LA will want to avoid too many close games, and while they don’t score as much as San Jose overall, they certainly have the goaltending and defense to make it happen.
Columbus has a four-point lead on the final Eastern spot with three games remaining. That’s good for them, but nobody wants to face the Bruins right now. A loss in Detroit briefly interrupted Boston’s lengthy points streak, but outscored their opponents 11-10 in their next three games, despite a 1-0-2 record in those games. Together, that means you can’t blow out Boston and have to play at least 60 minutes at a time to stand a chance. Not that Columbus can’t, but Boston is still Boston.
Montreal has won seven of their last eight, a lot of them by scoring quite a bit. The Lightning have been playing .500 hockey, including (in the past week) surrendering four goals to Calgary and five to Dallas, both home games. That’s not good news when Montreal is playing as hard as they are.
The Red Wings could mathematically wind up with #3 in the Division, or miss the playoffs entirely, but more than likely they’ll be fighting to decide which Wildcard they get. Pittsburgh hasn’t been playing their best lately, but their goal differential hasn’t taken too much of a hit. That differential will need to serve them well if they’re to stand a chance against the best teams in the league.
The Flyers have clinched a spot, but have been having quite a rough time against playoff bound teams. The Rangers have been doing a little better, but only have two points over Philadelphia, and with a game out-of-hand. Though they did beat Philadelphia on March 26; the home team has won every game in the season series, which will mean a lot. And Henrik Lundqvist will be a huge asset in net for the Rangers.
|Bruins def Blue Jackets||Canadiens def Lightning||Penguins def Red Wings||Rangers def Flyers|
|Blues def Stars||Avalanche def Blackhawks||Ducks def Wild||Kings def Sharks|
|Bruins def Canadiens||Penguins def Rangers|
|Avalanche def Blues||Kings def Ducks|
|Bruins def Penguins||Avalanche def Kings|
|Bruins def Avalanche|
Tags: Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, NHL Playoffs, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning