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Predicting Where Every NHL Team Will Finish in the 2013-14 Standings

Dave LozoNHL National Lead WriterMarch 13, 2014

Predicting Where Every NHL Team Will Finish in the 2013-14 Standings

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    There's about one month remaining in the NHL season, which means teams are either making their final push toward a playoff spot or doing what is necessary to secure their positioning in the postseason.

    Sure, other teams are sinking like stones with their eyes on the draft lottery, but this isn't about them.

    Fans are wondering whether their team is good enough to grab a wild-card spot or win a division or land home-ice advantage through the playoffs. Luckily for them, we have all the answers right here.

    This slideshow will go division by division (starting with the West, because the West is best and we all read from left to right) and predict the final outcome for all 30 teams in the standings. Some aspects are quite easy to predict (yep, the Anaheim Ducks and Pittsburgh Penguins are postseason-bound), but who will finish where in their division?

    Here's one man's best attempt at prognosticating the fortunes of all 30 NHL teams.

Central Division: 1. St. Louis Blues

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    Mark Buckner/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 1st

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 9/8

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 6

    Analysis: The schedule the rest of the way is somewhat difficult, with two road games against the Chicago Blackhawks and a trip to Pittsburgh on the docket. But this is the best team in the West and they are playing well enough to hold off all challengers.

     

Central Division: 2. Chicago Blackhawks

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    Sean Rudyk/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 3rd

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 9/7

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 7

    Analysis: Since starting 27-7-6, the Blackhawks have been mired in mediocrity. They are 11-7-8 since late December and aren't showing signs of being a threatening team. They should consider themselves fortunate to get home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Central Division: 3. Colorado Avalanche

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 5th

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 6/10

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 6

    Analysis: The Avs' schedule down the stretch is rough and features 10 games outside Denver. They face Anaheim and San Jose twice and St. Louis and Pittsburgh once. Their focus should be on finding a way to stay in front of Chicago for second in the Central.

Central Division: 4. Minnesota Wild

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    Jim Mone/Associated Press

    Conference finish: 7th

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 8/9

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 8

    Analysis: A four-game road trip through St. Louis, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago should go a long way toward deciding the Wild's fate. Their moves at the trade deadline—adding Matt Moulson and Ilya Bryzgalov—fortified the team enough to get it into the postseason.

Central Division: 5. Dallas Stars

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Conference finish: 8th

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 7/10

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 9

    Analysis: It's a tough row to hoe for the Stars, who haven't reached the playoffs since 2008. Their fortunes could rest on how quickly Kari Lehtonen recovers from a concussion. It could all come down to Tim Thomas, and that's not necessarily the worst thing for a team that may have to lean on its backup goaltender.

Central Division: 6. Nashville Predators

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 11th

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 6/10

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 6

    Analysis: It's all over in Music City, as the Predators are too far back of the wild-card spot to have a chance at a postseason berth. Things could be a lot different next season with a healthy Pekka Rinne and more seasoned Seth Jones.

Central Division: 7. Winnipeg Jets

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    Michael Martin/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 12th

    Games remaining: 15

    Home/away: 7/8

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 3

    Analysis: The Jets aren't good and neither is their remaining schedule. They had a nice run once Paul Maurice took over as head coach, but they've lost five straight and seven of nine and will be golfing in early May, as usual.

Pacific Division: 1. San Jose Sharks

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 2nd

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 8/8

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 9

    Analysis: The Sharks are 7-1-1 in their past nine and look motivated to run down the Ducks, which they will do before the season ends. By finishing first, they will avoid the Kings in the first round but will likely have to face them in the second round anyway. 

Pacific Division: 2. Anaheim Ducks

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 4th

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 7/9

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 7

    Analysis: The Ducks have lost four straight and are 7-8-2 in their past 17 games. A once insurmountable lead will be surmounted by the Sharks, leaving the Ducks with a difficult matchup in the conference quarterfinals with the Los Angeles Kings, which won't go well for Anaheim.

Pacific Division: 3. Los Angeles Kings

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    Derek Leung/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 6th

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 9/7

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 9

    Analysis: The Kings are just too far back of the Sharks and Ducks to catch either team, but they are plenty good enough to beat one or the other in the first round. If the schedule the rest of the way was a bit softer, maybe they could climb to second in the Pacific, but as it stands the Kings will be the most dangerous No. 3 seed in any playoff series.

Pacific Division: 4. Phoenix Coyotes

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 9th

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 8/8

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 6

    Analysis: What a tough team to read. They've won four of six, mostly against teams that aren't beating the world. The two losses featured comical third-period collapses against St. Louis and Washington. It'll be close, but they stay home in the race for the final playoff spot in the West.

Pacific Division: 5. Vancouver Canucks

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 10th

    Games remaining: 14

    Home/away: 8/6

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 6

    Analysis: The injuries and the trading of Roberto Luongo have left the Canucks in a messy state. There's just not enough time left for them to make a run. It's the start of some down times in Vancouver.

Pacific Division: 6. Edmonton Oilers

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 13th

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 10/6

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 7

    Analysis: With so many home games and a somewhat favorable strength of schedule, the Oilers will pass the Flames in the saddest Battle of Alberta in quite some time. 

Pacific Division: 7. Calgary Flames

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    Gerry Thomas/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 14th

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 7/9

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 9

    Analysis: The Flames are five points clear of the Oilers in the race to not be the worst in the West, but their 7-2 drubbing of the Ducks on Wednesday feels like the high point of their season. Expect a slide from this point forward, putting the Flames in play for the top spot in the draft.

Atlantic Division: 1. Boston Bruins

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    Conference finish: 1st

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 7/10

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 9

    Analysis: There will be no catching the Bruins in the Atlantic and they will be too strong for the Penguins in terms of conference supremacy. The Bruins have won six straight and are barreling toward another deep postseason run.

Atlantic Division: 2. Tampa Bay Lightning

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Conference finish: 4th

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 11/6

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 9

    Analysis: The schedule the rest of the way is quite cushy for the Lightning. With Steven Stamkos back in the fold, second place in the East seems well within reach. The loss of Martin St. Louis at the deadline is tough, but the Lightning should be good enough to have home-ice advantage in the first round.

Atlantic Division: 3. Montreal Canadiens

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    TONY AVELAR/Associated Press

    Conference finish: 5th

    Games remaining: 15

    Home/away: 7/8

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 8

    Analysis: They have dropped four of five, but Carey Price should be back soon to stabilize things in Montreal. The schedule the rest of the way is soft enough that the Habs don't have anything to worry about when it comes to reaching the playoffs.

Atlantic Division: 4. Detroit Red Wings

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 8th

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 9/8

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 4

    Analysis: The Red Wings have been decimated by injuries—Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Darren Helm just to name a few—but they should not be written off. They have the best coach in the NHL and Datsyuk will be back with about two weeks left. They will find a way to sneak in as a wild card, taking advantage of a collapse by a fellow Atlantic team.

Atlantic Division: 5. Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 10th

    Games remaining: 15

    Home/away: 7/8

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 8

    Analysis: For the Leafs to miss the playoffs at this point, it would take quite the collapse. But I believe they have it in them. They are a dreadful possession team, which almost always catches up with teams. They play the Red Wings twice down the stretch, and losses in those games will be what keeps the Leafs home this summer.

Atlantic Division: 6. Ottawa Senators

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    Andre Ringuette/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 11th

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 10/7

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 6

    Analysis: The Senators have dropped four of six since returning from the Olympic break and have shown no signs of being playoff contenders. The expectations were high going into this season, and the Senators have not lived up to them.

Atlantic Division: 7. Florida Panthers

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    Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 14th

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 10/7

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 7

    Analysis: The goal here should be to fade back enough to get into the 29th spot to give themselves a real chance at the No. 1 pick. The schedule the rest of the way isn't all that strong, but then again neither are the Panthers.

Atlantic Division: 8. Buffalo Sabres

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    Bill Wippert/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 16th

    Games remaining: It does not matter.

    Home/away: Why would you care?

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: You're still reading this slide?

    Analysis: The Sabres are the worst team in the NHL now and will be the worst team in the NHL a month from now. All the best to the Sabres in 2014-15.

Metropolitan Division: 1. Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 2nd

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 11/6

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 6

    Analysis: They will be spending nearly two-thirds of the rest of the season in the cozy confines of their home rink, but there aren't too many layups left on their schedule. They will face Western powers St. Louis, Los Angeles and Colorado, which will be enough to knock them just below the Bruins in the final standings.

Metropolitan Division: 2. New York Rangers

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    Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 3rd

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 6/10

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 9

    Analysis: The Rangers have quite a few games remaining on the road, but they are 19-12-0 away from home this season. They have more nonplayoff teams than playoff teams remaining as well. The Rangers have been playing well for quite some time, and they should use this last month to push their way into second in the division.

Metropolitan Division: 3. New Jersey Devils

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    Andy Marlin/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 6th

    Games remaining: 16

    Home/away: 10/6

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 10

    Analysis: The schedule is on their side in a major way, and of those six teams on the schedule currently in playoff position, five will have to face the Devils on the road. The Devils are 5-2-0 since returning from the Olympic break and are destined to overtake Columbus and Philadelphia for the third spot in the Metropolitan.

Metropolitan Division: 4. Columbus Blue Jackets

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 7th

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 9/8

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 7

    Analysis: The Blue Jackets traded Marian Gaborik for parts that are expected to help them in the future and lost Ryan Murray for the rest of the regular season, but they are still good enough to secure a wild-card spot. They have enough depth and a strong enough possession game to survive the final month and reach the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.

Metropolitan Division: 5. Philadelphia Flyers

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    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 9th

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 10/7

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 3

    Analysis: The Flyers' remaining schedule is brutal. They play the Penguins three times, the Bruins and Blues twice and the Blackhawks and Kings once. The team has survived most of the season with a subpar Steve Mason in net, but the final month will expose the Flyers as the below-average team they are.

Metropolitan Division: 6. Washington Capitals

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 12th

    Games remaining: 15

    Home/away: 7/8

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 5

    Analysis: More road games than home games and a tough schedule down the stretch are sure to sink the Caps' playoff chances. A once-dominant team in the East has been reduced to a fringe playoff squad at best in the weaker conference.

Metropolitan Division: 7. Carolina Hurricanes

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    Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 13th

    Games remaining: 17

    Home/away: 7/10

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 8

    Analysis: It's all over in Carolina and it may be the end of the line for coach Kirk Muller. Cam Ward has two years with a cap hit of $6.1 million remaining on his contract and the defense is a mess. They're not far off from being a playoff team, but that's not happening this year.

Metropolitan Division: 8. New York Islanders

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    Marianne Helm/Getty Images

    Conference finish: 15th

    Games remaining: 15

    Home/away: 8/7

    Vs. nonplayoff teams: 9

    Analysis: The Islanders gave the Sabres a protected first-round pick in the Thomas Vanek/Matt Moulson trade, so they'll very likely be hanging on to it this year and forfeiting their first-rounder in 2015. It's a franchise adrift that has no real immediate future.

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