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Here is an up-to-the-minute look at the NHL playoff race. There are still 19 teams with a chance to make the playoffs. We know the 8 teams that will make up the Eastern Conference schedule; we just don’t know the order they will finish. It’s a different story in the West. Other than Colorado, which has the #1 seed locked up, there is a lot to be decided in the remaining games. Eleven teams still have a shot to join Colorado, Calgary, St.Louis, and Minnesota, who have clinched a spot in the upcoming playoffs. having nine or ten regular season games left to go. A lot can change between today and April 29th.
#1 Florida Panthers (7 games remaining): They have 114 points and lead the Atlantic Division and the East by 8 points. They need 3 more wins to clinch the #1 seed in the East, no matter what anyone else does. The Panthers have won ten in a row, and have gone 17-3 in their last 20 games. They are an offensive machine, averaging 4.23 goals per game. As of today, they would host the Washington Capitals in the first round of the playoffs.
#2 Toronto Maple Leafs (6 games remaining): The Leafs have 106 points and they are playing very well. They still could finish atop the Atlantic Conference, but it isn’t likely, and 2nd place looks pretty secure. Toronto has to get over the stigma of exiting the playoffs in the first round, and there is a ton of added pressure in hockey-crazy Toronto. If the season ended today, they would face the 2-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. That’s not who you want to face first in the playoffs.
#3 Tampa Bay Lightning (7 games remaining): The defending champs have 100 points and are trying to get on a winning streak in the final games of the regular season. They are only 9-11 in the past 20 outings, and they are better than that. Look for them to finish strong and challenge to move up. They have a slim chance to catch Toronto for the 2nd spot in the Atlantic, but more importantly, need to focus on staying ahead of Boston. They would start the playoffs on the road against Toronto as of today.
#4 Boston Bruins (7 games remaining): The Bruins are the #1 wild-card team and they are sitting on 97 points, three points below the Lightning. They lost some ground this week and have lost three out of four. They still have a shot to finish 3rd, but they have to finish strong. At this moment, they are in line to play Carolina or the New York Rangers in the first round.
#1 Carolina Hurricanes (6 games remaining): The Hurricanes are really struggling and are tied in points with the Rangers for 1st place in the Metro Division. They are only 9-11 in their last twenty games, and they are in danger of slipping into 2nd place. As of now, they would play Boston in the first round, but that could change as we go through the next few games.
#2 New York Rangers (6 games remaining): The Rangers are even in points with the Hurricanes and are taking dead aim at 1st place in the Metro. They have gone 13-7 in the last 20 games and look pretty solid, in being, no worse than 2nd in this division. They are solid in goal scoring and guarding the net, and are a Stanley Cup contender. They would play Pittsburgh in the 1st round, as of now.
#3 Pittsburgh Penguins (5 games remaining): They are hanging on to the third spot with 97 points, which is only 3 points ahead of the Capitals. Plus they have played 2 more games than the Capitals. They are another team that is struggling, and they are 9-11 in the last 20 games. They have the least amount of games left for the East playoff teams with 5, and they need every win they can get to stay in 3rd place, and avoid playing Florida in the first playoff round. As of today, they would play the Rangers in the first round.
#4 Washington Capitals (7 games remaining): The Caps have 94 points and trail Pittsburgh by 3 with two games at hand. They are playing very well again, having gone 14-6 over the past 20 games. They are a dangerous foe in the upcoming playoffs. At the moment, they would start the playoffs against the Florida Panthers, but they have a good shot at finishing in a better position.
#1 Colorado Avalanche (7 games remaining): The Avs have 116 points which leads the entire NHL, and they have clinched the top seed in the Western Conference. They have been remarkably consistent and have only 14 losses all year long. This is a confident team with no weaknesses and no one wants to play them. They are the Stanley Cup favorites at the moment. As of today, they would meet Nashville in Round 1.
#2 St.Louis Blues (6 games remaining): The Blues are currently on a roll and have won 9 straight and 11 of their last 12. They lead the Wild by 1 point for 2nd place in the Central division and that race will likely go down to the last couple of games. The Blues are safely in the playoffs and will be fighting for home ice in the first round in the final 6 games of the regular season. They are looking at a matchup with Minnesota to start the playoffs.
#3 Minnesota Wild (7 games remaining): The Wild trail St.Louis by 1 point, but they have a game at hand on them. These two teams keep jockeying back and forth for playoff position. It is a battle for home ice advantage between the two as they are heading for a first round showdown.
#4 Dallas Stars: ( 7 games remaining): They are tied with Nashville with 91 points, but have a better winning percentage. Therefore they have the 1st wild card spot at the moment. They have 7 games remaining, and have a 4-point lead over Vegas and 7-points over Vancouver for the final playoff spot in the Western conference. So they are in pretty good shape. As of now, they would play Calgary in the first round.
#5 Nashville Predators (6 games remaining): Nashville is in the final playoff spot and is tied with Dallas with 91 points. However, the Stars have one more game left than the Predators. They need to keep winning to stave off Vegas and Vancouver. They would play Colorado in Round 1.
OTHER CONTENDERS: Winnipeg has 81 points with 6 games left and are mathematically alive but have only a teeny-tiny chance.
#1 Calgary Flames (7 games remaining): They lead the division with 101 points and are in good shape to win the Pacific. They are playing steady hockey and have gone 12-8 in their last 20 contests. They are very balanced and can score goals, as well as keep opponents away from scoring. They would play Dallas if the season ended today.
#2 Edmonton Oilers (6 games remaining): The Oilers got off to a slow start, but since a mid-season coaching change, they have picked up the pace, and surged to a comfortable position in the Pacific. They have 94 points and are in good shape to stay out of a wild-card spot. They lead the Kings by 4 points and have a game at hand as well. Goaltending and the back line are the keys to their success in the playoffs. They would play the LA Kings in Round 1.
#3 Los Angeles Kings (5 games remaining): The Kings have 90 points and are in a battle with Nashville, Dallas, Vegas, and Vancouver for playoff position. They have played more games than any of those teams and that is a problem. With only 5 games left, they lead Vegas by 3 points and the Canucks by 6 in the race for 3rd place in the Pacific. Vancouver has two games at hand on them and Vegas has one. So, even though they are safely in at the moment, that could change in the last few games. The good news is, the remaining games are all winnable. As of today, they would play Edmonton in the first round.
Vegas Golden Knights (6 games remaining): They are nipping at the heels of the Kings, Stars, and Predators with 87 points. They have cooled off recently and are only 2-3 in their last 5 games. Starting tonight, they have the next 3 games at home and they need to win them all. They end the season on the road with Dallas, Chicago, and St.Louis and that will be a tough stretch. If they can get hot, they still have a legitimate chance to make it.
Vancouver Canucks (7 games remaining): The Canucks have won five in a row and they have a decent shot at sneaking into a playoff spot as well. They have 84 points and are six points out of the big prize. They have seven games left, and that is a big advantage over the Kings. who only have 5. The bottom line is; Vancouver needs to win them all and if they do, they might knock off somebody ahead of them.
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