Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013: Teams Heating Up at Right Time

Sean FryeFeatured ColumnistApril 30, 2013

Alex Ovechkin and company have won 11 of their last 13 games.
Alex Ovechkin and company have won 11 of their last 13 games.Greg Fiume/Getty Images

With the Stanley Cup playoffs starting tonight, some teams are heading into the postseason red hot and will look to continue that trend. 

While some teams coasted into the playoffs, these teams finished the regular season on a tear and may be extremely dangerous in the first round. 


Washington Capitals

The month of April was an incredible one for the Capitals. Behind strong play from Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals won 11 of 13 games in the last month of the regular season. 

Ovechkin played particularly well over the last five games of the season. The superstar left-winger had four goals and four assists to end the season. 

The success in April was a huge turnaround from how the Capitals started the season in January, a month in which they lost six of seven games. 

Nevertheless, the Capitals soared up to the third seed in the Eastern Conference and will look to keep up their winning ways against the sixth-seeded New York Rangers. 

The Rangers are the NHL's fourth-best defense, as they only allow 2.3 goals per game. Ovechkin and his supporting cast will have to play sound, efficient offense to advance to the conference semifinals.


Detroit Red Wings

Winners of its last four games and five of its last seven, the Detroit Red Wings are trending upwards as the seventh seed in the Western Conference. 

If the Red Wings want a chance to pull off the huge series upset against the second-seeded Anaheim Ducks, they'll have to keep playing the way they have been in April. 

Center Henrik Zetterberg has been playing well over the last few games. In his team's last four outings, Zetterberg has eight assists and two goals. He'll need to continue to distribute the puck well against the Ducks, one of the most balanced teams in the NHL. 

The Red Wings have been inconsistent this season, but if they can continue their hot streak, they may stand a chance at beating the Ducks. 


St. Louis Blues 

The Blues ended the regular season by winning six of their last seven games. In those six wins, they only allowed one goal in each game. 

That has put the fourth-seeded Blues in a great position to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions—the fifth-seeded Los Angeles Kings.

Goaltender Brian Elliot really stepped up as the playoffs approached. In his last five games, he has a save percentage of .921 and has only allowed eight goals, despite a 5-3 loss the Blues suffered to the Colorado Avalanche. 

Elliot will have to keep up his impressive play against the Kings, who possess the tenth-highest scoring offense in the league at 2.7 goals per game.