Is this assuredly the year for the Washington Capitals?
The band has all of the pieces to assuredly breach through and win its first Stanley Cup, but a contempo slump and a bulk of surging wild-card contenders could complicate its aisle through 2017 NHL Playoffs. In the Western Conference, teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Agrarian and San Jose Sharks all could face boxy matchups with the appointment actuality so top-heavy.
Let’s booty a attending at the latest allowance for the Stanley Cup contenders, the absoluteness of which can be begin on OddsShark.com. Continue for a breakdown of which teams to watch for as wild-card threats.
The New York Rangers are all but bound in to the aboriginal agrarian agenda atom in the Eastern Conference. They sit at 93 credibility and six credibility abaft the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan analysis admitting accepting played an added game. The Rangers are additionally 12 credibility advanced of Toronto, which owns the aftermost agrarian agenda position.
That leaves the Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning as the teams allusive for third abode in the Atlantic analysis in accession to a wild-card spot.
Despite accepting the best amateur played at 72, Boston, which owns 36 adjustment wins, has to like its affairs to defended a playoff spot. The Bruins comedy eight home amateur to accomplishment the year while actuality a point up on the blow of the field. It additionally helps that Brad Marchand is arena out of his mind, as ESPN’s John Buccigross and Boston Herald deputy sports editor Mark J. Murphy note:
The Bruins additionally comedy bristles added amateur adjoin Atlantic teams, who Tuukka Rask happens to be assertive adjoin this analysis to the tune of a 16-4-1 record, 1.89 GAA and a .932 save percentage.
Tampa Bay, 77 points, could accept a boxy time authoritative up arena with two amateur larboard adjoin the Bruins, who they are 0-2-1 adjoin on the year. The Lightning do comedy the Detroit Red Wings alert and the Buffalo Sabres once, and they are 3-0 anniversary adjoin those teams. Yet, advantageous four credibility with alone 30 adjustment wins is absurd in the aing two weeks.
Toronto is up three credibility on the New York Islanders, but anniversary band charge topple some boxy competition.
The Maple Leafs still comedy the Columbus Blue Jackets twice, Pittsburgh and Washington. They do get Buffalo twice, a aggregation they are 2-1 against. The Islanders get Nashville alert in accession to the Rangers and Penguins.
With a three-point advantage and four beeline home amateur to aing out the season, Toronto should be advantaged to acreage the aftermost wild-card position. This aggregation has been arena able-bodied of backward by acceptable bristles of its aftermost seven, and this adolescent amount led by Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly arise a to booty Toronto aback to the postseason.
Per SportsNet, a playoff anchorage would cap off an already absorbing turnaround:
On the added hand, the Western Appointment playoff chase looks to be about complete.
The St. Louis Blues currently absorb the aftermost wild-card atom with 81 credibility and 11 amateur remaining. The aing aing adversary to jump them would be the Los Angeles Kings, but those affairs are slim. The aggregation is six credibility aback with alone 10 amateur to play, and the Kings accept stumbled of backward at 4-4-2 in their aftermost 10 games.
St. Louis’ actual agenda is additionally acutely favorable, as it will comedy the average Colorado Avalanche three times and the Arizona Coyotes twice.
This could acquiesce the Blues to possibly move up in the Central analysis over the Nashville Predators, who accept 83 credibility in 72 games. With the Predators set to booty on abundant top teams like Minnesota and San Jose as able-bodied as squads block playoff spots like Boston and the Islanders, they actual able-bodied could abatement abaft St. Louis.
The two teams comedy on April 2, which could accept an appulse on that race. Yet, St. Louis’ schedule, additional the actuality that it has won seven of its aftermost 10, should accord it third abode in the analysis and a playoff antagonism with the Chicago Blackhawks
As for the added West wild-card spot, the Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are about asleep alike in the standings with 10 amateur anniversary to play.
Calgary is on fire, accepting won nine of its aftermost 10. The Flames accept 86 credibility in the aboriginal wild-card spot, with the Postmedia’s Wes Gilbertson acquainted that they are now absolutely amid the eight best teams in the awful aggressive Western Conference:
The actual agenda for Calgary, which holds a two-game advantage in adjustment wins, is daunting:
Meanwhile, Edmonton, which has won four straight, plays the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado twice. The Oilers additionally comedy Anaheim and Los Angeles twice, and they are 2-1 adjoin both squads. This, accompanying with its contempo able play, should acreage Edmonton the additional berry in the Pacific division.
This leaves the April 2 and 4 amateur amid Anaheim and Calgary as the acceptable chief factors for the third atom in the division. The Ducks are 2-1 in this antagonism on the season, and they additionally accept a added favorable schedule, with the brand Winnipeg alert and Vancouver upcoming.
Anaheim should win added of its actual amateur adjoin alfresco of the Flames, but Calgary’s adjustment win advantage, admitting actuality one point, should accord it the aboriginal of edges to accelerate into the aftermost wild-card atom and abstain the Sharks in the aboriginal round.
Statistics are address of NHL.com.
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