By Adam Williams in Sports
March 29, 2012
The Stanley Cup playoffs are right around the corner and the battle for those remaining positions is heating up.
Only three teams in the Eastern Conference have clinched; The New York Rangers, The Pittsburgh Penguins, and The Philadelphia Flyers. All three of these teams are in the Atlantic Division and will have another along side them in the near future with the New Jersey Devils.
In the Western Conference, the St. Louis Blues lead the way with a league leading point total of 105 pts., well on their way to winning the President’s Trophy. The usual suspects in the Vancouver Canucks and Detroit Redwings join the Blues as the only teams in the postseason so far.
Where the battle really heats up is in the seven, eight, and nine seeds in both conferences.
In the East, perennial powerhouse Washington Capitals are on the outside, looking in, only two points behind the Buffalo Sabres.
Buffalo picked up a huge win against the Capitals earlier in the week to push themselves into the eight seed in large part to Ryan Miller.
Miller, in the month of March, is 10-1-2, with two shutouts in that span.
Ottawa sits in the seven seed with 88 points, but with their inconsistency down the stretch, there is a possibility they could slip out and watch the playoffs from the golf course.
While the Eastern Conference has a tough race for the final three spots, and the order of those spots, going on right now, the Western Conference is always the circus this time of year.
A shootout is the best way to describe the wild Western Conference.
The Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes are tied with 87 points, sitting in seventh and eighth place, respectively. The Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalance are tied with 86 points and the Calgary Flames are in eleventh with 85 points.
A lot is to be determined with these teams down the stretch as one loss can ruin a team’s run in the final five to six games of the year.
A quick hit prediction for the remainder of the season will the following:
The Capitals will fall short of the postseason due to the lack of scoring depth and loss of Nicklas Backstrom a few months ago due to a concussion.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will capitalize down the stretch and get that No. 1 in the East over the Rangers.
The West is coin toss every year, but the way the Kings have been playing as of late makes it hard pressed to bet against them getting in the playoffs with one of the best young teams in league.
The amount of hockey played by the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins will wear on them early on in the postseason, due to the ferocity the lower seeded teams will come with, hitting hard and skating fast. Potential early exits for the reigning Stanley Cup participants.
Next week, a feature on playoff matchups, key players for each teams, and venue advantages/disadvantages. Until then, enjoy the frantic end of a phenomenal 2011-2012 regular season.