Playoffs Just Days Away For NHL: Familiar Faces Return

Jon WynenContributor IApril 11, 2009

DETROIT - MARCH 12:  Pavel Datsyuk #13 of the Detroit Red Wings skates against the Calgary Flames during the game on March 12, 2009 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The NHL playoffs are just around the corner, and the two teams who competed in the finals last year are both in it this year...but not in the same spots.

Last year, the Red Wings were the best in the west, and in the NHL overall. They are now second in both of those categories based on stats.

The Penguins, who were number two in the east, are now number six.

Will these two differences change how they will preform in the playoffs this year?

Maybe, but I believe that the Red Wings have the best chance of the two to return to the finals.

Pittsburgh has stepped up their game late in the season to clinch that spot in the playoffs.

Starting off the season going back and forth between third and fourth in the division, they are now one win or an overtime game away from second place.

One of the main reasons they could have fallen this far from last year could be the loss of Marion Hossa to the Red Wings.

Another could be the injuries to Crosby, Gonchar, or the other players that have missed signicant time. 

Team chemistry was undoubtedly affected with the lines having to get mixed up, and no one line staying the same through the season.

Detroit, the defending NHL champions, made key additions to their already amazing roster.

They got Ty Conklin to help Chris Osgood, so he can get those much needed breaks due to his old age, and they also got Marion Hossa from the Penguins. Hossa made a huge impact on how they played this year by giving the team 40 goals and 31 assists.