NHL NEWS: Playoff seedings starting to shape up…
Over the last couple of days, as we roll into the final couple of weeks of the season, the playoff seedings are beginning to appear.
Chicago clinched a playoff spot two days ago, and they appear to be well on their way to securing the President’s Trophy with 64 points on the back of 30 wins, just 5 losses and 4 OT losses in 39 games so far. They haven’t yet clinched the Western Conference title or even the Division title, as in theory they could be caught by St Louis for the Division (though that’s extremely unlikely) or Anaheim or Vancouver for the Conference.
Out East, Pittsburgh locked up top spot in their Division with a win over Carolina. They have 60 points so far, on 30 wins and 10 losses in 40 games. This despite their top players (Crosby, Malkin, Letang) all struggling with injury at some point or another this season. Montreal could still conceivably catch them for the Conference title, although they won’t give up that spot easily. The Atlantic Division crown also guarantees Pittsburgh home-ice advantage for at least the first round of the playoffs.
Here’s how the league currently stands:
The playoff race in the Western Conference remains tight, with Dallas, Columbus and Phoenix all having a chance to catch Detroit for the 8th spot if all goes well. Edmonton have an outside shot too, but would have to go on a miraculous run to make it. Minnesota could catch Vancouver for the Northwest Division title, but I’d be surprised if they manage it.
In the East, things are fluid – the Rangers are in 8th with 42 points whilst Winnipeg are in 9th, also with 42 points, but the Rangers have 2 games in hand. If everything breaks right for the Jets they could make the postseason. The 6th and 7th spots are also completely up for grabs, as the Senators and Islanders certainly haven’t locked up their spots yet, being only 4 points ahead of Winnipeg in 9th. Boston could steal the Northeast Division title, as they are only one point behind the Habs with a game in hand.
Here’s hoping for a Chicago vs. Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Final. That would be a great matchup in terms of the talent present on both teams.