Predicting Risers and Fallers in Final Month of 2013 NHL Regular Season
After a lengthy lockout, the 2013 NHL season started in January, and it is hard to believe that the end of the season is quickly approaching.
The 2013 season featured some explosive starts like the Chicago Blackhawks' point streak, and in the final weeks, there are going to be some teams that will rise or fall because of various roster additions and injuries that have impacted the roster.
The top spots in the conference are pretty much locked, but there are some bubble spots that will include some risers and fallers.
Only a few teams can make the swing forwards or backwards, but who will rise and fall?
Here are the bubble teams who will rise and fall in the final month of the regular season.
New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils have entered a downward tail spin since losing Ilya Kovalchuk to injury, and the team's playoff chances have taken a huge hit.
Since losing Kovalchuk, the Devils are 0-3-4 in their last seven.
Without Kovalchuk the team has not been able to score enough goals to win, and for that reason they will likely miss the playoffs.
New York Islanders
The New York Islanders have played some impressive hockey over the past few weeks, and there are no signs that suggest they will slow down.
Evgeni Nabokov has been playing some tremendous hockey; the team is contributing offensively, and they have taken advantage of the down play of other teams in the conference.
Given the team's surging play as of late, they will likely finish No. 8 in the Eastern Conference.
The Edmonton Oilers were on their way back into a playoff spot after going on a nice win streak, but a string of losses shortly after that put them back on the outside looking in.
When you couple the Oilers' inability to capitalize on their win streak with the surge of teams like the St.Louis Blues and Phoenix Coyotes, they will fall short of making the playoffs in 2013.
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers captured seven of eight points during the past week, and they have greatly improved their playoff chances partly because of the team's improved offense and the play of Henrik Lundqvist.
In Lundqvist's last 10 starts, he has posted a record of 6-2-2, a 1.57 GAA and a .947 save percentage. The Rangers have also benefited from an improved power play that has scored five goals in the last three games.
The Rangers are getting hot at the right time, and they have a chance to finish between sixth and eighth in the conference.
The Ottawa Senators have dropped four games in a row, and the New York Rangers and New York Islanders are in striking distance of overtaking the team's spot in the Eastern Conference.
Although Craig Anderson is back in net, the Senators have not played well as of late.
The Senators were playing good hockey for a great portion of the season, but lately they look like a different team.
Ottawa will make the playoffs, but there is a good chance that the team could fall to the final spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Phoenix Coyotes have really done a great job climbing back toward a playoff spot, and their current win streak leaves them just on the outside looking in, three points behind the Detroit Red Wings.
Given how the team has played as of late and how Detroit has played .500 hockey over the past 10 games, there is a good chance Phoenix could make the playoffs.
The Winnipeg Jets are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games, and the team has fallen out of their lead in the Southeast Division.
The Washington Capitals have surged as of late, and the team is occupying the No. 3 spot in the division in addition to being the Southeast Division leader.
If Winnipeg had been able to play above .500 hockey during the last few weeks, there is a good chance they would still be leading the division, and the team wouldn't be struggling to make the postseason.
Detroit Red Wings
The Detroit Red Wings are 5-5-0 in their last 10 played including a one-game losing streak. Over the past few games, the team hasn't played consistent, but teams behind them like the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars have been streaking towards the top.
If the Red Wings can't gain points on a consistent basis, there are teams like Phoenix and Dallas that will capitalize en route to the playoffs.