These playoff matchups are based as if the playoffs started today. Two Florida teams are in the Playoffs but no Canadian teams? Woah, thanks Bettman. With less than two weeks to go in the regular season, there are nine playoff spots available. No teams can clinch a playoff spot Wednesday. Teams that have already clinched: Washington Capitals, Dallas Stars, St.Louis Blues, LA Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks.
Dallas Stars (#1 – 46-22-9 – 101 PTS) vs. Minnesota Wild (WC – 38-27-11 – 87 PTS)
The Stars are first in the division, thanks to their offense. They have such an overpowered offense, packed with a key addition in Kris Russell at the Trade Deadline. Minnesota’s win on Tuesday against the Blackhawks got them even closer to clinching a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They are now five points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for the Wildcard spot. Colorado managed to end St.Louis’s shutout streak at 258:29, but ended up falling to the Blues 3-1 at Scottrade Center. This would be a pretty good series, although I’m not sure if Minnesota can keep up with Dallas. Can Minny keep up with Jamie Benn and his Dallas team? Only time will tell.
Season Series: 4-1 Stars
- Dallas – 5 Games Left
- Minnesota – 5 Games Left
St. Louis Blues (#2 – 46-22-9 – 101 PTS) vs. Chicago Blackhawks (#3 – 44-26-7 – 95 PTS)
The Blues have been on fire as of late, getting hot at just the right time. The Blues are tied with the Dallas Stars for 1st in the Central, both having five games left. This series would be an interesting one, to say the least. Both of these teams have a lot of firepower, but with different perspectives of it. The Blues have a much more solid defense than the Hawks, but their offense is much better. This will be a battle of offense vs. defense. Which one wins championships again?
Season Series: 2-2
- St. Louis – 5 Games Left
- Chicago – 5 Games Left
Los Angeles Kings (#1 – 45-26-5 – 95 PTS) vs. Nashville Predators (WC – 39-25-13 – 91 PTS)
Well we all knew that last year was just a fluke for the Kings. They are back at it again, and they look good this year. Everyone is on their game, and ready for the playoffs to begin. Even though the Kings have been good, so have the Preds. Their two month stretch of great play is going unnoticed no longer, and they look dangerous. Great move by Poile to grab Ryan Johansen, that dynamic center they’ve been needing for awhile. This series will be rough, and tough. Both teams being big, quick and dangerous.
Season Series: 2-1 Kings
- LA – 6 Games Left
- Nashville – 5 Games Left
Anaheim Ducks (#2 – 42-23-10 – 94 PTS) vs. San Jose Sharks (#3 – 43-28-6 – 92 PTS)
So who cares about the bad start to the year for the Ducks, right? Bob Murray did well, in sticking with his coach. Bruce Boudreau is a great coach, and so are his Ducks. The Dynamic Duo is what turned them around. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf showed up, and now their Ducks are a scary team to play. This series would be good, although I’m not too sure how Martin Jones will play. He’s been under pressure, but being a starter in the playoffs is tough. I can see the Ducks goaltending having the advantage. Will be a big, rough series.
Season Series: 3-1 Ducks
- Ducks – 7 Games Left
- Sharks – 5 Games Left
Tampa Bay Lightning (#1 – 44-27-5 – 93 PTS ) vs. New York Islanders (WC – 41-25-9 – 91 PTS)
The Lightning are looking to make a splash in the playoffs this year. With the Stamkos situation, this could be a really key factor with his decision. Will Stamkos stay in Tampa, or leave for Free Agency? I could not tell you that, although if Stamkos doesn’t think he can win a championship in Tampa, he won’t stay. The Islanders might have that same situation with their captain, John Tavares in 2018. This series will be good, just can’t see the Isles getting by the Lightning.
Season Series: 1-1
- Tampa Bay – 6 Games Left
- New York – 7 Games Left
Florida Panthers (#2 – 42-25-9 – 93 PTS) vs. Boston Bruins (#3 – 40-29-8 – 88 PTS)
The Panthers have had a good amount of their youth step up and play well, along with 44 year old Jaromir Jagr. Both of these teams were not expected to have such good years, but they overcame the odds. Boston had moved a lot of their core (Lucic, Hamilton) for draft picks in the offseason, and were not expected to be a playoff team. Although, they both made good transactions at the Trade Deadline also. Florida picked up Jiri Hudler from Calgary, Teddy Purcell from Edmonton, and Jakub Kindl from Detroit. Boston picked up Lee Stempniak from the Devils and John-Michael Liles from Carolina. This will be a good series to watch, hopefully Luongo plays a little bit of better playoff hockey. That would be Boston’s advantage, as Roberto Luongo has been known as a choke show in the Playoffs.
Season Series: 3-1 Bruins
- Panthers – 6 Games Left
- Bruins – 5 Games Left
Washington Capitals (#1 – 54-16-5 – 113 PTS) vs. Philadelphia Flyers (WC – 37-25-13 – 87 PTS)
The Capitals are the Presidents’ Trophy Winners. They have had an insane season, with production coming from everyone, along with phenomenal goaltending. The only problem with winning the Presidents’ Trophy, is the curse that comes with it. There has only been one team in recent history (Chicago Blackhawks) who has been able to knock off the curse, and win the cup. The Flyers have been solid as of late, sneaking into that WC spot. I want to say that the Flyers will put up a good chance, but not sure if I can. The Capitals are good in the first round, but then start to die off. Watch for the Caps to come out strong.
Season Series: 2-1 Capitals
- Capitals – 7 Games Left
- Flyers – 7 Games Left
New York Rangers (#2 – 43-24-9 – 95 PTS) vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (#3 – 43-25-8 – 94 PTS)
Both of these teams have had pretty good years. Although, New York’s month of March has been abysmal. This is definitely not the right time to be getting cold. Hopefully the Penguins can get Malkin back before the Playoffs, being as he is, a main part of their offense. The Rangers window for winning is closing, and it is closing fast. Will this be the year they finally get over that hump and win a championship? I don’t think so. Although, it’s playoff time, so anyone can win.
Season Series: 3-1 Penguins
- Rangers – 6 Games Left
- Penguins – 6 Games Left