Teams have about 28-30 games left in the season but if the playoffs started now, what would they look like? Since teams have played a different number of games, instead of using points, I looked at points per game played to rank teams. In the east nothing changed among playoff teams but in the west Dallas and Vancouver swapped positions and Anaheim falls right out of the playoffs. The playoffs match ups would be:
Buffalo at Boston
Florida at New Jersey
Montreal at Washington
NY Rangers at Philadelphia
Definitely some interesting match ups there. You have divisional rivals Boston and Buffalo and New York Rangers and Philadelphia and then two less physical, more skilled teams going at each other in Montreal at Washington. A few years ago Florida at New Jersey would have been a complete snooze fest but New Jersey is a bit more interesting team now with the skill of Parise, Elias, Gionta and others and Florida, while a defense first team, has some good young players. Still, with that said, this would not exactly be the most exciting hockey one could see.
Edmonton at San Jose
Minnesota at Detroit
Vancouver at Calgary
Dallas at Chicago
Good news, bad news for Edmonton fans. The good news is you made the playoffs, the bad news is you face a near impossible challenge of beating the San Jose Sharks. As good as Detroit is, Minnesota with their good defense and goaltending could put up a good challenge, particularly if Gaborik can find a way to get back in the lineup for the playoffs. Vancouver vs Calgary would be a match up made in Western Canada heaven. Like Minnesota, Vancouver’s goaltending could post a threat to the Flames, but otherwise the Flames are a better all round team. Dallas at Chicago is the veteran team vs the up and comers. I tend to think that Dallas could upset the Blackhawks but this series might come down to which team gets better goaltending. Turco hasn’t been great this year but you know he has the ability and Khabibulin has been pretty good but might be the streakiest goalies in the NHL so is more than capable of going on a cold streak. Huet is a solid goalie ready to step in if needed though.
What are your thoughts? Which teams do you think will make the playoffs and do you have any dark horse candidates to make a lengthy run in the playoffs?