With one week left in the regular season, the playoff picture is still far from decided.
I hate the word ‘wildcard’, it’s too much like baseball for my liking, but it’s making this playoff race way more confusing than it should be.
In the east, the eight teams are basically set, but don’t count Florida out. The Panthers are barely over .500 in their past 10 games, but they still have a realistic chance. The southern cats will have to win out, but with a game in hand, (assuming they win one of their last four games) they’re only 3 points behind New Jersey and 4 behind Philly. Flyers nation should feel pretty confident as their last three games are all winnable (NYI, Car, NYR). As for the Devils, Kinkaid and crew have been hot in their last 10, but they still have to face Toronto and Washington.
Florida’s hurdle and deciding factor whether they can get back in the playoffs is if they can beat the B’s. The Panthers went 1-1 against Boston in March, including an impressive 3-0 win that’s stuck in my mind. They controlled the game at both ends of the ice and if that team finished off the season I think they have a chance to slide past New Jersey on the last day of regular season puck.
In the west, the race between St Louis and Colorado is electric. The Avs currently have a one point lead for that final WC spot, but St Louis has a game in hand. Both are on losing streaks and come April that’s not what you want to hear. The Blues were one of the hottest teams in the league (6 game heater), but both seem like they don’t want to face Nashville in the first round (understandable). Colorado’s tough path has them go through LA and San Jose, before meeting St Louis in their final game of the season. St Louis has to go through Washington, Chicago x2 and then that spotlight matchup on Saturday night against the Avs.
I’m giving the Avs the advantage because Nate Mack has been incredible to watch this season. As for those pesky Blues, they traded one of their top 6 forwards at the deadline and Jake Allen’s .907 SV% doesn’t knock my socks off.
This is going to be fun.
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