There are only two things I know:
- Certain teams have been eliminated from the playoffs (sorry, Calgary)
- Others are struggling to hold their spot (yikes, Buffalo)
Here’s a (kind of) bold prediction:
Hockey fans around the country will see two divisions drop from the playoffs in the first round.
Washington may make the playoffs—their fate is in their hands—and could win their division (that is less likely). This means that unless Florida whiffs on their last four games (they could), they’ll be the three seed and Washington will be the eight.
I see the Rangers matched up with Washington in the first round. Sound familiar? It is, except Washington typically is the one seed. The Rangers should take this matchup easily. They have a plus-44 goal differential and are hot (four-game win streak).
Washington is 5-3-2 in their last 10 and have a minus-11 goal differential.
The Devils have to feel good about the six seed. It’s better than a matchup with Pittsburgh or Philly. They get the limping Panthers (see slide) that have a minus-23 goal differential and have won their division essentially by default*.
*I realize if they blow it, I’ll look like an idiot, but with a two-point lead and a game in hand, they should win the Southeast.
With a Rangers win over the Caps and a Devils win over Florida, there goes the Southeast.
The only way I see the Pacific surviving the first round is if San Jose gets the three-seed.
I see the slumping Red Wings getting the six-seed, and the Sharks have eliminated them from the playoffs in the last two years.
Otherwise, I see San Jose/LA/Dallas/Phoenix losing to top-seeded Vancouver and St. Louis in the first round and Detroit taking a series against a less-experienced playoff team like LA, Dallas or Phoenix in the three-six matchup.